Family Development Matrix


The Family Development Matrix (FDM) is a comprehensive, strengths-based assessment tool that enhances the community program's commitment to supporting families and children while improving data collection methods.

The Family Development Matrix provides these benefits:

  • The Family Development Matrix facilitates a "family-in-situation" comprehensive assessment.
  • Provides reliable information from which to assess family situations. Family workers are more effective in understanding family strengths and areas of concern.
  • Builds on individual and family strengths to address problems recognized through the FDM assessment.
  • Facilitates family decisions and goal setting with empowerment plans.
  • Tracks changes in family status for as long as they are engaged with the program providing tables and graphs of family progress.

How Does the Family Development Matrix Project Work?
Each agency assigns an FDM coordinator. A network of agencies additionally has a collaborative coordinator. We form an FDM design team from networks. We work with the design team to develop the tool in the following manner:

A. Customize the Matrix Model into a standardized outcomes tool.

The design team identifies outcome categories and indicators from our web database and creates unique indicators to suit the mission, culture and population and geography of the agencies. We test indicators for validity and reliability using feedback from family clients and agency staff to redesign. A pilot test completes the assessment tool. The result is a core set of outcome measures used with families in both agency and collaborative programs. Agencies often add additional indicators for program analysis.The FDM is capable of tracking service interventions, case management activity and family engagement.

B. Development of a Collaborative Community Prevention Plan.

The Matrix is used in a variety of prevention programs. A community prevention plan helps to integrate the FDM into each agency’s culture. The plan creates the vision, values and leadership roles to fit the FDM into prevention programs, organizes the measures for goals, addresses obstacles and describes how the collaborative will “make things happen” in their community. Additionally, we create an agency showcase for all agency participants and add data results and FDM practices.

C. Worker training to use the FDM with families.

Staff training sessions for agencies and staff provide an overview of the Family Development Matrix for measuring family progress and using outcomes indicators to build on the strengths of families. Our family case planning uses a “Family Empowerment Plan” and agency practice standards to increase family engagement and decision-making. A how-to manual is provided to use the Family Development Matrix.

D. Data entry and retrieval.

The design team establishes a protocol for using the FDM. Staff are trained to enter assessment data into the internet database. Each agency has their own data port and instant access to their family data. The collaborative coordinating agency has access to aggregate data across agencies.

E. Reports. Each agency has access to reports that currently include:

1. Individual assessment, family strengths and issues of concern, interventions and empowerment plans
2. Data reports of family status for baseline and subsequent assessments
3. Status level reports for family progress across all indicators across all assessments
4. Retrieval of data by client code positions
5. Tables and graphs for printing

F. Technical Assistance.

Site visits and/or teleconferences for continued staff efficacy with the use of the Matrix Model.

Strategic Planning and Management with Outcomes

The data from the FDM is used by the worker to assess the status of the clients, by the supervisor to review cases and by the program manager to address gaps, allocate resources and celebrate success across departments. Funders and decision-makers better understand how funds allocated are bringing tangible results. The data assists programs and their funders to improve community-based services by evaluating the outcome results of program resources in a direct relationship to family progress.