Families ThriveTM

Families Thrive is a comprehensive, brain-based training that integrates CSSP’s Strengthening Families™ and Youth Thrive into a single intensive training experience aimed at helping professionals respond to youth and their caretakers in ways that increase engagement and the likelihood of healthy developmental outcomes.

The training devotes a session to each of the protective and promotive factors – knowledge of child development, social connections, cognitive & social/emotional competence, concrete supports in times of need, and resilience – and teaches practical techniques for applying the framework in programs, practices, and communities. See a two-page review of the evidence supporting the promotive and protective factors framework and showing how that evidence aligns with the Administration on Children, Youth & Families’ own research.

Learning Objectives

The training is delivered in seven modules, or sessions: one introductory; one for each of the five protective/promotive factors; and one in closing that asks participants to plan concrete steps for implementing the approach in their work setting. Following is a breakdown of learning objectives by session.


  • Learn training goals and guiding premises
  • Assess individual attitudes and knowledge regarding the guiding premises
  • Discover how the premises are or are not present in current practice

I. Child and Adolescent Development

  • Learn basic concepts of brain development and the formation of “templates”
  • Explore key developmental neuroscience related to infancy, early and middle childhood
  • Explore interventions that support optimal brain development
  • Understand basic concepts related to how brain development is affected by trauma
  • Understand the difference between normal or positive stress and traumatic stress
  • Understand ACEs and the activation continuum
  • Develop suggestions for new interventions that support optimal development

II. Social Connections

  • Increase awareness of the importance of relationships and the skills necessary to build them
  • Understand the stages that relationships go through as they develop
  • Understand the effects of trauma on relationship formation
  • Explore the Youth Connection Scale tool and practice using it

III. Cognitive and Social-Emotional Competence

  • Increase awareness of the components of cognitive and social-emotional competence and the experiences that promote them
  • Explore the use of a variety of cognitive and social-emotional competencies

IV. Concrete Supports in Times of Need

  • Explore the barriers that children, youth and caregivers face in accessing support in time of need, and how “the system” is itself a barrier
  • Learn how to increase overall willingness to seek support
  • Learn how to use the FosterClub’s Permanency Pact

V. Resilience

  • Explore how resilience supports healthy development and well-being
  • Learn which personal characteristics support resilience, and how we can promote them in the young people and families with whom we work
  • Assess current personal practices that support resilience

Training for Trainers Course

Course participants who complete the Families Thrive Training of Trainers are authorized to teach the Youth Thrive and Families Thrive curricula. These can be taught as standalone courses or combined as Families Thrive. (Strengthening Families does not require trainers to complete a training event. Course materials are available for download at the CSSP website for practitioners who want to teach Strengthening Families content as a standalone course.)

To be eligible for the Training of Trainers track, participants must:

  • Be trained in adult learning principles
  • Have experience training adults
  • Be able to participate in the full TOT including the additional day ‘teachback’ session
  • Agree to teach Families Thrive to at least 50 people in the two years post-training
  • Be willing and able to gather and submit data on all Families Thrive trainings conducted


Each participant receives:

  • Families Thrive Participant Manual (printed copy)
  • Families Thrive handouts
  • CEU credits available

Following training, each participant joins the Thrive Community of Practice and will receive additional resources and updates as they become available.

Each trainer receives:

  • Families Thrive Participant Manual, Trainer Guide, presentation slides and all handouts
  • Youth Thrive Participant Manual, Trainer Guide, presentation slides and all handouts in electronic format (PDF)
  • CEU credits available

Following training, each trainer joins the Thrive Community of Practice, will be involved in ongoing development of the curriculum, and will receive additional resources and updates as they become available.

The training is provided by Youth in Focus, a collaborative of organizations working with the Center for the Study of Social Policy to disseminate the Youth Thrive™ and Families Thrive curricula and materials. Collaboration members are Academy for Competent Youth Work, Bolster Collaborative, Health Care Education and Training, National Safe Place Network, Phillips Programs, and Youth Catalytics.