A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action

Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program

Last Revised: Jan 11, 2017 - Initial Posting: Aug 26, 2004

The Department of Human Rights, Division of Community Action Agencies administers Iowa’s Statewide Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program that provides developmental services to families who are at risk of long-term welfare dependency.


The Iowa Division of Community Action Agencies administers the Family Development and Self-Sufficiency Program (FaDSS) that provides services to promote, empower, and nurture families towards economic and emotional self-sufficiency.  FaDSS is a supportive service to assist families in Iowa’s Family Investment Program (FIP) with significant or multiple barriers to reaching self-sufficiency.  FIP is Iowa’s TANF program (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families).

Thirteen of the seventeen CAAs in Iowa are FaDSS grantees.  The FaDSS Council serves in a policymaking and advisory capacity.  The composition of the Council includes state agency, business representatives, domestic violence provider representatives, state regent institutions representative, along with current or former FaDSS participants.

fadss_fy-17standardsAn FaDSS Concept Paper provides an overview of the program’s history, program design, core service components and core program components of FaDSS.  FaDSS Program Standards are organized in three categories:

  • Pre-Enrollment
  • Enrolled: (a) Initial Enrollment Activities (b) Ongoing Service Provision
  • Organizational

A Guide to Selected Assessment and Screening Tools serves as a resource for selecting and implementing formal assessment tools.  The guide is organized under six areas of focus: Adult Education and Employment, Basic Needs, Child Development and Parenting Skills, Domestic Violence, Family Functioning, and Health, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse.

The foundation of FaDSS is regular home visits with families using a strength-based approach.  Core services include support, goal setting, and assessment.  Support is given in many ways such as referrals, group activities, linking families to communities and advocacy.  A special focus involves coordination of FaDSS services with Iowa’s PROMISE JOBS welfare reform program.

Staff training and development is a critical component of the FaDSS program.  Family Development Specialists and their Supervisors are certified through a training program that has been approved by the FaDSS Council.

Professional development also occurs through the Iowa Community Action Association, the Iowa Family Development Alliance, and other local, state, regional and national training opportunities.


fadss-annual-report-2016The FY 2016 FaDSS Annual Report highlights program results shown below and also includes year-end summaries from each FaDSS grantee.

  • Increased Employment: 49% of FaDSS households had at least one adult employed at exit compared to only 23% at entry.
  • Increased Income: Employed FaDSS families increased their average monthly wage to $1,252, an increase of $591, at exit.
  • Decreased Family Investment Program Payments: Families averaged $377 in FIP payments at entry with the average at $114 upon exit, a decrease of $263 for a decrease of 70%.
  • Achievement of Educational Goals: 28% of FaDSS adults lacked a HS diploma/GED or adequate literacy skills.  FaDSS assisted in the following ways (a) 79 families completed GED/HS diploma, (b) 77 families completed a certification program, (c) 38 families completed an Associate's Degree, (d) 11 families completed a Bachelor's Degree.
  • Increased Access to Services: 50% of FaDSS have a family member that is a current or past victim of domestic violence.  In FY16, 480 FaDSS families had experienced domestic violence.  77% of these accessed necessary and appropriate services.
  • Increased Access to Services and Treatment - Mental Health: 1,416 FaDSS adults had a substantial mental health issue.  85% of adults with a mental health barrier accessed treatment.
  • Increased Access to Treatment - Substance Abuse: 481 adults had a substantial substance abuse issue.  85% of adults with a substance abuse barrier accessed treatment.

Tim Fitzpatrick, FaDSS Program Manager