Family Connections (Birth to Age 5)

Last updated: 2011

Model overview

Theoretical approach

Family Connections service delivery is based upon nine core principles: (1) community outreach; (2) family assessment; (3) individualized, tailored intervention; (4) helping alliance; (5) empowerment approaches; (6) strengths perspective; (7) cultural competence; (8) developmental appropriateness; and (9) outcome-driven service plans. View Revisions

Model services

The core program components of Family Connections are (1) outreach and engagement, (2) intake and screening, (3) emergency services, (4) comprehensive family assessment using standardized instruments, (5) case planning with SMART goals, (6) home visiting, (7) client advocacy and service facilitation (indirect services), (8) assessing progress on case plans at least every 90 days, and (9) multifamily recreational and supportive activities (optional).

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Intended population

Family Connections can be implemented with families with children birth to age 18 although the program originally targeted children ages 5 to 11. For the purposes of the HomVEE review, this profile is based on developer recommendations and studies of programs that target children birth to age 5. The replication project eligibility criteria required that the child had to be living with the primary caregiver for at least six months and be expected to remain with the primary caregiver. The family could not be currently involved with Child Protective Services, and participation had to be voluntary. Additionally, the family or child had to exhibit at least two risk factors, and the child had to be at risk for at least one subtype of neglect. The risk factors were as follows:


  • Employment (overemployed, newly employed, or unemployed)
  • Mental health problem
  • Alcohol or drug problem
  • Serious health challenges


  • Behavior or mental health problem (e.g., ADHD, truancy, vandalism, depression)
  • Physical disability
  • Developmental disability (e.g., speech and language disorder, mental retardation)
  • Learning disability
  • Alcohol or drug problem


  • Homelessness
  • Domestic violence
  • More than three children in the household

Subtypes of neglect:

  • Inadequate/delayed health care
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Inadequate clothing
  • Unsanitary household conditions
  • Unsafe household conditions
  • Unstable living conditions
  • Shuttling
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Inappropriate substitute caregiver
  • Inadequate nurturing
  • Isolating
  • Witnessing violence
  • Permitting drug/alcohol use
  • Permitting other maladaptive behavior
  • Delay in obtaining needed mental health care
  • Chronic truancy
  • Unmet special education needs
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Where to find out more

Ruth H. Young Center for Families and Children
University of Maryland School of Social Work
525 W. Redwood Street
Baltimore, MD 20201

Diane DePanfilis, PhD, MSW
Phone: (410) 706-3609

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