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Family Support Programs

A list of all Pennsylvania Family Support Programs

Children's Trust Fund

The Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund (PA CTF) is dedicated to funding innovative and creative community-based child abuse and neglect prevention programs. Specific emphasis for funding is placed on primary prevention programs that focus on the prevention of abuse before it occurs for the first time. PA CTF was established pursuant to Act 151 of 1988, the Children's Trust Fund Act.

PA CTF is led by a 15-member Board of Directors and administered by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL). The PA CTF Board consists of three members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, three members of the Pennsylvania Senate and nine citizens appointed by the Governor. The Deputy Secretary for OCDEL under the Departments of Human Services and Education serves as the Executive Director to the Board.

The Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund is funded through revenue generated from a $10 surcharge on all marriage and divorce applications filed in the Commonwealth. Additionally, gifts, donations, interest and sometime federal funds contribute to the Children’s Trust Fund.

Pennsylvania's CTF has been investing in child abuse and neglect prevention efforts since 1990.
For more information, please visit the Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund website.

Promoting Responsible Fatherhood

The Department of Human Services (DHS), in coordination with other Commonwealth agencies, launched the Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Initiative (PRF) in 1999.  Studies have shown that involved fathers provide practical support in raising children and serve as models for their development. (Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior compared to children who have uninvolved fathers. Fatherhood programs help fathers:

  • Strengthen positive father-child engagement
  • Improve employment and economic mobility opportunities; and
  • Improve healthy relationships (including couple and co-parenting) and marriage.

A list of state funded Promoting Responsible Fatherhood Programs.

Family Centers

Since 1992, Pennsylvania's Family Centers have integrated and provided community services to help families become healthier, better educated and self-sufficient. Family Centers help parents:

  • Learn about their children's development.
  • Engage in parent education and child development activities.
  • Access health care information as well as assistance regarding health care services and insurance.
  • Access education, training and employment information.
  • Receive information and assistance on other community resources, such as well-baby care, immunizations and early intervention services.

Since each Family Center takes a unique approach to meeting their community's needs, not all services are available in every center. However, Family Center services may include:

  • Adult Education
  • Job Training and Placement
  • Language Skills
  • Literacy Programs
  • Parent Support Groups
  • Parenting Skills Programs
  • Child Health and Development Screenings
  • Family Activities
  • Toy and Book Lending Libraries
  • Child Care Programs
  • Summer and After-School Activities

All state funded Family Centers provide evidence-based home visiting services. A list of state funded Family Centers.

Evidence-Based Home Visiting Models

Below are short descriptions of the evidence-based home visiting programs the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) funds. More information on each model and the locations of non-state funded programs can be found via the model websites listed. Information on state funded programs.

Early Head Start

Early Head Start provides early, continuous, intensive, and comprehensive child development and family support services to low-income infants and toddlers and their families, and pregnant women and their families. The program is designed to nurture healthy attachments between parent and child (and child and caregiver), emphasize a strengths-based, relationship-centered approach to services, and encompass the full range of a family's needs from pregnancy through a child's third birthday. For more information, please visit Early Head Start.

Family Check-Up for Families with Young Children

Family Check-Up (FCU) for families with young children is designed to help parents address challenges that arise with young children before these concerns become more serious or problematic. The model focuses on families experiencing high levels of stress and adversity, which puts children at risk for unfavorable outcomes, such as child conduct problems. FCU seeks to decrease children’s conduct, academic, and internalizing problems; reduce mother’s depression; and increase parental involvement and positive parenting. The FCU involves three visits with a Family Coach – a therapist certified in the model, which can take place in the home or a community location. After the three FCU sessions, families can choose from a menu of service options, including:  family-based interventions tailored to the needs of their family, parent skills training, preschool consultation, community referrals, and more.

Healthy Families America

Healthy Families America (HFA) is a nationally recognized evidence-based home visiting program model designed to work with overburdened families who are at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child maltreatment. It is the primary home visiting model best equipped to work with families who may have histories of trauma, intimate partner violence, mental health and/or substance abuse issues. HFA services begin prenatally or right after the birth of a baby and are offered voluntarily, intensively and over the long-term (3 to 5 years after the birth of the baby).

Nurse-Family Partnership

The Pennsylvania Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) is a nurse home visiting program that helps eligible first-time parents experience healthy pregnancies, learn how to take good care of their babies, and make plans for the future. Home visits by registered nurses promote the physical, cognitive and social-emotional development of the children and provide general support as well as instructive parenting skills to the parents. Services are provided to families prenatally until the child reaches two years of age.

For more information, please visit the National NFP website.

Parents as Teachers

In 1992, the first Pennsylvania funded Parents as Teachers (PAT) programs were implemented in 13 newly created family centers, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Today, PAT is being used by over 57 affiliate programs statewide to provide research based, child development and parenting education to more than 7,400 children and 5,500 families in the Commonwealth. In Pennsylvania, the PAT model is used in a variety of settings including family centers, Head Start and Early Head Start, Even Start, ELECT, child care, Children's Trust Fund, grant and foundation funded programs, faith-based and hospital sponsored programs, and county Children and Youth agencies.