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Children First Staff Earn National Family Development Credential

Children First, the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, is proud to announce that five employees have recently earned the national Family Development Credential through the University of Connecticut.

The Family Development Credential (FDC) emerged in 1994 from a research-policy collaborative. The program provides frontline workers with the knowledge and skills they need to coach families to set and reach their own goals for healthy self-reliance in their communities.

To earn the credential, employees participated in 80 hours of classes and 10 hours of advisement, as well as completed a portfolio documenting their ability to apply these concepts and skills over the course of six months. Participants then passed a standardized exam. All Children First Family Advocates now hold this important credential, with supervisors and family strengthening staff also encouraged to take part in this opportunity.

Employees who earned their credential include Anthony Cortez, Family Advocate; Angela De La Rosa, Families First Institute Manager; Syraida Maldonado, Family Advocate; Josh Poling, Family Advocate; and Chlory-Ann Robinson, Human Resources Assistant.

“At Children First, we believe both families and staff benefit greatly from the skills learned and practiced in the FDC class, which we offer on campus. All Family Advocates are encouraged to enroll and attain the national credential, even if they already have an advanced in-field degree,” says Meredith Mitchell, Director of Family Services. 

The class was facilitated by Children First Family Advocate Coach Maria Buitrago, with staff members Kwame Alexander, Marina Carlin, Lori Davis, and Maria Morcillo serving as Portfolio Advisors. Ms. Buitrago earned her Family Development Leadership Credential from the University of Connecticut in 2017.

“When families have access to the resources and support that they need, communities truly thrive. By providing quality, sequential training that allows staff to further develop their skillsets to work most effectively with families, those we serve are receiving the highest-quality services possible that will empower them to reach their goals,” says Maria Buitrago.

About Children First:
Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At 15 sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to

Additional Info

Media Contact : Evan Ackerman

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