Iowa's National Academy Aims to Professionalize the Field of Family Support Services
The Iowa Department of Public Health is leading a significant cooperative effort to professionalize the workforce for home visitors and others providing family support services through the development of the National Academy for Family Support Professionals.
The Academy, launched in January 2016, provides 23 online learning modules built on a range of core competencies critical for family support professionals and grounded in the most recent field research. Historically, family support professionals in home visiting and other programs have had limited opportunities for accessing professional development and credentialing that serve to support their direct work with families in the field. Since the arrival of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) to the early childhood landscape, the need for intentional efforts to ensure home visitors are equipped with the skills and tools needed to effectively implement a wide range of home visiting programs across communities has intensified. The Academy addresses this need by not only aiming to ensure a formal career pathway and transferable credentialing for family support professionals, but also providing consistent professional development opportunities across a continuum of core competencies needed for meeting the diverse needs of families.
At the onset of this initiative, leaders in Iowa recognized that all states, territories, and tribes involved in MIECHV held common interest and were in some stage of creating core competencies, offering a range of professional development opportunities, and creating professional credentialing for home visitors. Along with partners at the University of Kansas and Quality Assist, Inc., Iowa extended an open invitation to all states to participate in a multi-state consortium in an effort to leverage and align the collective capacity of states to support continued development of the Academy. These Early Adopters states contribute to the consortium by sharing costs and participating in the creation of common goals and competencies in an effort to improve the consistency and quality of professional development offered to family support professionals in the field. As of January 2016, the following states have committed to participating in the consortium as Early Adopters: Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee and Virginia. Initial funding for the project was seeded by the Iowa Department of Public Health.
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