Family resource programs have emerged since the 1970s as a spontaneous response to the need for more support expressed by parents. These programs have also emerged as a result of the awareness by people who work with families that preventing problems is the most effective approach. Although the settings for programs and the resources they offer families vary widely, every program shares one goal: increasing the capacities of all families to nurture their children.
All family resource programs are based on the assumption that parents who are confident and competent in their parenting roles are more likely to raise healthy, productive children. The intentional incorporation of family empowerment in all aspects of a program as a way to enhance child development differentiates family resource centers from other services for families.
The guiding principles and policies of family resource programs reflect a reliance on partnerships with parents:
- The basic relationship between program and family is one of equality and respect. The program's first priority is to establish and maintain this relationship as the vehicle through which growth and change can occur.
- Participants are a vital resource. Programs facilitate parents' ability to serve as resources for each other, to participate in program decision and governance, and to advocate for themselves in the broader community.
- Programs are community-based and culturally and socially relevant to the families they serve. Programs are often a bridge between families and other services outside the scope of the program.
- Parent education, information about human development, and skill building for parents are essential elements of every program.
- Programs are voluntary, and seeking support and information is viewed as a sign of family strength, not as indicative of deficits and problems.