Center for Family Development

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator, Family Resiliency

July 2019

As an Educator with the Extension Center for Family Development I typically write these articles on my specific work related to family resiliency. Today, I am going to share a broader view of the great programming my Family Development colleagues are offering across the state.

Center for Family DevelopmentThe Extension Center for Family Development (ECFD), through its nimbleness, innovation, and relevance, teaches families and those who serve families to make informed decisions leading to greater health, resilience and well-being. As a result of our programs, Minnesota families – no matter their makeup, structure or place in life – possess the knowledge and skills to create resilient, healthy, and secure futures. We work with people on the individual level, where we provide direct education with individuals and families. We also work with a variety of organizations to build capacity, providing train-the-trainer education with staff and volunteers of community organizations, such as non-profits and government agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, and libraries. We work with families and communities throughout Minnesota, as well as nationally, offering education in person and online. Besides English, select classes are offered in other languages, such as Spanish. Family Development programming occurs within three broad areas:

  1. Family Resiliency
  2. Health & Nutrition
  3. Children, Youth & Family Consortium

Family Resiliency

Family Resiliency education programs, services, and resources help individuals and families make informed decisions in order to successfully navigate life's transitions and challenges. Extension educators work with individuals and families in their communities, workplaces, and homes, as well as with community-based professionals who serve them. Our research-based educational offerings address pressing issues for families and communities, particularly underserved populations, to help them make informed decisions for better health and wellbeing. Family resiliency programs are offered under two main categories: family relations and financial capability.

Family Relations programming includes education on divorce and co-parenting, school success, caregiving, general parenting (such as parenting in the age of overindulgence), and professional development for military family service providers. This past year, Family Relations’ work expanded with a response to the opioid epidemic and parent education with incarcerated fathers.

Financial Capability programming includes basic personal finance education for adults and youth, tenant education, disaster financial preparedness and recovery, health insurance literacy, and end of life decision making (such as health care directives and passing on non-titled property).

Health & Nutrition

Food, health, and nutrition programs improves food literacy, physical activity, food safety and healthy food access for Minnesotans and the food service industry.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) helps participants make the best food choices to feed their families and promote healthy lifestyles. The SNAP-Ed team works to empower individuals and families to make healthy food and physical activity choices by demonstrating quick, easy, fun ways to prepare delicious and healthful meals; strengthening local economies by teaching participants how to shop at area stores and farmers markets; and helping communities create and sustain environments that support and promote choices.

Similarly, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is designed to assist limited resource families in acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets. Participants learn how to make food choices that can improve the nutritional quality of the meals they serve their families and increase their ability to select and buy food that meets the nutritional needs of their family. EFNEP improves nutrition practices, stretches food dollars, strengthens families, and builds self-worth. 

Cooking Matters® is a cooking-based nutrition education program that empowers people to eat healthier and make the best use of their food resources. Each year, more than 40,000 participants learn how to shop smarter, make healthier food choices, and cook delicious meals.

In addition, Educators work with professionals on school and child care nutrition as well as collaborate with community partners to make the healthy choice the easy choice through systems approaches and networks.

Children, Youth & Family Consortium

The Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) bridges research and practice to promote mental well-being and health in children, youth, and families. CYEC's efforts take interdisciplinary and ecological approaches; build relationships with community and University partners to co-create educational events, multimedia resources, and interactive support networks of individuals and agencies committed to enhancing the well-being on children, youth, and families.

Learn More & Connect

Learn more about the UMN Extension Center for Family Development by reading our 2018 Annual Report.

Connect with the Center for Family Development by subscribing to one or more of several newsletters, list serves or social media on our “keep in touch” web page. As a starter, I recommend the Family Matters Blog.

Please contact me via email with any questions, program ideas or requests related to Family Development needs.  I’ll be sure to connect you with the appropriate Educators!

© 2019 Regents of the University of Minnesota.  All rights reserved. University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.  In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this material is available in alternative formats upon request. Direct requests to 612-624-1222.