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Dec/Jan 2005Vol. 5, No. 10Measuring Strengths-Based Service Delivery

A new tool for measuring strengths-based service delivery may help workers evaluate early childhood and family support programs to determine whether the programs reflect a true strengths-based perspective.

Two studies were conducted with parents who had children enrolled in Early Head Start programs. The first study resulted in the development of the Strengths-Based Practices Inventory (SBPI), a 16-item inventory based on measuring four factors: Empowerment Approach, Cultural Competency, Staff Sensitivity-Knowledge, and Relationship-Supportive.

The second study examined whether strengths-based practices, as measured by the SBPI, were associated with specific parent outcomes. Parents with children in Early Head Start completed the SBPI when their children were 14 and 24 months old; parents were also assessed for engagement, participation, efficacy, empowerment, and parenting competence. Results showed that certain SBPI factors were related to family engagement, frequency of services, empowerment, competency, and the home environment. Some of the correlations were stronger at 24 months than at 14 months.

The authors suggest that the SBPI is a reliable and valid measure of strengths-based practices in voluntary early childhood and family support settings. It also may be used to assess whether staff practices are congruent with a strengths-based philosophy. The SBPI has not been tested in nonvoluntary settings such as child protective services.

"The Strengths-Based Practices Inventory: A Tool for Measuring Strengths-Based Service Delivery in Early Childhood and Family Support Programs" was published in the July-September 2004 issue of Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services. Information about subscriptions can be found at