Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Here are answers to some of the questions that our facilitators, trainers, and agencies ask us.  Ask questions on the form provided on this page.

Click on the links following for a quick way to get to the answers you’re looking for.

History of Nurturing Families

What is the difference between Nurturing Families (NF) and Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP) ?

Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP) intervention is a family-centered trauma -informed initiative designed to build nurturing parenting skills as an alternative to abuse and neglecting parenting and child-rearing practices. In over 30 years, millions of agencies and individuals worldwide have been part of this initiative reaching millions of families. Under this initiative you will find that there have been various curricula that have been created by many authors. In 2015, Sonya Thorn principal author of Nurturing Families 2nd Edition and Dr. Stephen Bavolek the principal author of the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory together entered a joint authorship and created Nurturing Families 1st edition. The focus of the 1st edition was to update many older curricula birth-19. The first pilot sites conducted were with State Child Welfare and Mental Health Departments in North Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, and California.  Participants who completed Nurturing Families showed improvements in their overall functioning and therefore become better in their role as nurturing parents.

Sonya is no longer advertised as an agency or trainer by Family Development Resources (FDR), because she is no longer training on NPP older outdated curriculum.  Family Development Resources, a marketing and publishing company for some curriculum under this initiative. FDR has clearly stated that it is a conflict of interest for them to promote a curriculum that they cannot profit from.  Sonya Thorn is the principal author of the most updated Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition, which is currently implemented in 21 states, Japan, and Canada.

Some of my clients have expressed confusion about the relationship of the Nurturing Parenting Program, the Nurturing Families™ curriculum, and Nurturing Families Center. I have authoried a white paper explaning some of the history of the NPP initiative and how NPP-Nurturing Families™ is implemented today. Read the White Paper.

What empowered Sonya Thorn to develop Nurturing Families 2nd Edition™?

Thank you for asking. I enjoy answering this question. I was previously in direct partnership with Dr. Stephen Bavolek/Family Development Resources for almost 29 years. I will continue to be part of the Nurturing Parenting Program initiative and update curriculum as needed to meet the needs of today’s families. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and always wanted to do more to support families and empower them in their role as parents. After being trained and licensed in many Family Therapies and Family/Parenting Education programs, I came across Dr. Stephen Bavolek’s (Dr. B.) research early in my career. I first became a Facilitator in 1992. Through the years many were inspired by Dr. B’s research.

Dr. B gave every trainer a strong message to take his program to all corners of the world. He encouraged many to modify, update, reproduce, and create updated work. For this reason, in 2012 and through a joint venture Dr. Bavolek and I authored the Nurturing Families 5-19 1st edition, first sold in five states. While restructuring my company and in the era of two big pandemics (Covid and Racism), I took our joint work and updated it even more for today’s families and to meet facilitators and family’s virtual needs. I have now developed Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition in English and Spanish (Criando Familias) that can be implemented in many platforms with parents of children of all ages.

What is the difference between NPP-Nurturing Families Certified Trainers and NPP-Family Development Resources/FNC Trainers?

Both types of trainers are under the the world-wide Nurturing Parenting Program initiative. To be a Nurturing Families™ Certified Trainer you must go through an 18-hour Facilitator Training, implement Nurturing Families™ for at least 2 years and then go through a Training of Trainers (TOT) exclusively provided through the Nurturing Families Center™.

A Nurturing Families™ certification is a stronger testament to the continuing education of a licensed professional, family partner, youth worker, parent educator, and adult/family peer support. You stay updated, do the hard work, and you should have a certification to honor that.

Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition includes everything in the 1st edition Nurturing Families 5-19, co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bavolek and Sonya Thorn, plus updated materials for families with children of all ages.

NPP-Nurturing Families™ Trainers are certified through the Nurturing Families Center™ and can train on the most updated Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition.

Recognitions do not provide ongoing support or fidelity implementation oversight.  Family Development Resources facilitators and trainers receive recognitions for attending a 3-day training. They are not certified on the NPP-Nurturing Families™ most updated curriculum. They are not authorized to provide Nurturing Families™ Training of Trainers to create “Certified Organization Trainers”.

What exact curriculum do we need to Implement Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition to fidelity?

To implement the Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition to fidelity, you will need to purchase two manuals.

First is the Facilitator Implementation Manual for $175.00. The cost and access to the manual are now included (as of 2021) in your 18-hour Facilitator Certification training.

Second, you or your agency will need to purchase an annual license for the Family Workbook that was once called the Parent Handbook. The Family workbook ranges from $175.00-$750.00 per year dependent on agency size. All implementation materials are in e-document format, which you get access to instantly through an email notification.

The core content includes everything from the 1st Edition NPP-Nurturing Families 5-19, authored by Dr. Bavolek and Sonya Thorn. The Nurturing Families 2nd Edition has been updated to meet the current societal needs of families, to be delivered virtually, and includes more updated content on mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence. The curriculum was also created through a trauma informed lens.

Do we have to use the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI) developed by Dr. Stephen Bavolek as an evaluation instrument to implement Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition to fidelity?

No it is not necessary, but it is always the consumers choice.

We have received so much feedback from agencies and providers that the AAPI is outdated, and the Spanish is more outdated than the English. Like anything else that was developed in the 80’s and updated in the 90’s, to be effective, the questions must go through the rigor of research or updates. Otherwise, after many years, families will outgrow the inventory. This is exactly what has happened with the AAPI. This once amazing instrument that most of us value must go through some major updates and rigorous research to maintain its effectiveness.

Nurturing Families Center™, under Sonya Thorn’s leadership, has encouraged, supported, and even did some contract work for Family Development Resources in 2020 to help them update the AAPI. Our center has not seen any updates on the FDR website as of December 2021. Until the assessment tool is updated, we recommend that you do not use it with Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition. 

We have updated our Nurturing Families™ Facilitator Trainings to provide the necessary tools needed to collect data directly from constituent families and to teach facilitators to monitor on-going progress.

We would also like to let you know that Sonya Thorn is working with a research team to develop a pre- and post-assessment for Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition program, slated to go out on its first pilot in 2022. The beauty of families is that they and society are constantly changing! We must not be stagnant!

What is the most popular/common training?

By far, the Certified Nurturing Families™ Facilitator Training, Implementation Booster, TOT (training of trainers), and Racism as Trauma are the most popular trainings.

Does this program work just as well with one person versus a group?

Absolutely! Nurturing Families 2nd Edition has been developed to work with diverse families in group, home visitation, clinic-based, and/or through an online platform. The best part about it is that you only need two implementation manuals!

Ask a Question

We’d love to hear from you. Write any questions related to the Nurturing Parenting Program initiative, Nurturing Families Center™, Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition Curriculum, or Fidelity Implementation. We will answer you directly through email. We are here to serve, and thank you for the opportunity.

COVID Questions

In the COVID-19 era, what has changed in your curriculum?

Our curriculum has been updated with everything that needed to change, from content, how to purchase the curriculum, and how we train and support our certified facilitators and trainers.

What has been the hardest part of training virtually?

The hardest part is not being able to nurture attendees in the same way as usual. Although, I must say the training and implementation of Nurturing Families is still extremely effective through a virtual platform. We are now being asked to be creative in a different way. Exercising creativity is a must when doing this work.

After Training Questions

After taking the Facilitator Training, what is the next training that you would recommend for me to take to continue in this career?

Most importantly, maintain your affiliation with our Center by regularly visiting our website. Visit our current events page often and attend the annual recertification virtual conference every November (2nd week of November). After two years in great standing and becoming well versed in implementing Nurturing Families™ directly to families, I invite you to sign-up to attend a Training of Trainers (TOT) held in May and December of every year. After meeting all the requirements, you can become a certified organizational/agency trainer.

What kind of support can I expect from you after completing the training?

Nurturing Families Center™ certifies facilitators and trainers so we can continue to serve and answer ongoing implementation needs of frontline providers. We do not charge you for added support. We only charge for added service. What this means is that you can contact us whenever you need us, and we will support you on this journey so you can continue to serve families with quality services. You can always contact us with questions or comments. We also provide facilitator coach sessions, fidelity audits and consultation services as added services.

When you update your trainings, do you notify the trainee that there’s an updated course available?

Yes, you can find all updates on our “Current Events” page, and we will provide updates every year at the recertification conference. Remember you can always contact us or leave a question on the form above.

What are the requirements to keep my certification current?

To keep your certification current, attend the annual recertification virtual conference every November (2nd week of November).  The other requirement is to implement the curriculum as much as possible to stay well versed in the content.

When I become a NPP-Nurturing Families™ Certified Trainer who will I be allowed to train?

Before you can train others at your designated agency, you must first be a Certified Facilitator for two years. During these two years as a facilitator, you must be implementing the curriculum to fidelity directly with families. You will then attend a Training of Trainers (TOT) and after meeting all the requirements of a trainer, you will be Certified as an Organizational Trainer for Nurturing Families™. This designation lets you train facilitators in your agency on the art and skills of being a Nurturing Families Facilitator.

Does the Facilitator or Trainer Certification ever expire?

It does not expire if you attend the annual 2-day recertification conference in November and continue to actively implement Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition to fidelity. It is at this online conference every year that we reinstate certifications to facilitators and trainers for the next year. If you do not remain active by implementing the program and attending the conference you will be placed on an inactive status where you will not be allowed to implement Nurturing Families™ until you attend another 18-hour facilitator training and/or the next recertification conference. If you are not a certified Trainer in active status you are not be allowed to train others.

Facilitator Implementation Questions

I plan on implementing Nurturing Families ™ with birth parents whose children are in foster care. Do you have any suggestions on how to use this program when birth parents will have limited access to their children on a weekly basis?

Nurturing Families 2nd Edition has proven to be effective with all individuals playing a parenting role in a child’s life. Parents do not need to have daily or weekly access with their children to successfully learn. All “Home Practice Assignment’s” (HPA) reinforce the lessons learned and can be done with children, self, or other adults. It is highly recommended that you provide parents and others parenting children with HPA’s to help them interact in nurturing and fun ways when they do not always have access to their children.

If the parents will not participate in the program, is it acceptable to work with the child only?

Nurturing Families 2nd Edition was designed to work from a family systems perspective. Work extra hard to join with the adults in the family system before joining with the child. If this is not something you need help with consult with your supervisor on ways to join with parents or call us at the Nurturing Families Center. Once you build rapport with the adults, you can ask for their permission to do sessions directly with their child on a regular basis. Remember the adults in a family system define family. They are where the true change is sustained.

How would you work with a family or parent who is not practicing in the home what has been taught in the sessions?

Nurture Us and Watch Us Grow. Be careful with language and attitude you have with a family that doesn’t yet trust. Sometimes people say, “the family is non-complaint or resistant”. This assumes that they do not choose to be on this journey. Possibly they have never been around nurturing facilitators that have empowered them and pointed out their strengths. Don’t give up on believing in people even if they do not currently believe in themselves. At first you may need to modify your approach and your teaching modality to fit the family, not to fit your schedule or and agency schedule. You’ve got this! Remember that you have passion for this work.

Do you have suggestions for using the program if a translator is needed for just one client? How best could we make it work to help them out if we don’t have a large Spanish speaking clientele?

The best and most equitable way to serve families that speak a different language other than English is to educate the translator on the philosophy and values so they may be able to provide a cultural translation not a direct English translation of the content. You can also ensure that the translator comes from the same culture as the family being served.

What happens when a family “no show” a lot? In some programs parents must attend all the sessions.

Begin by recognizing that rapport and more time may be needed with some families. Families are not used to participating in a structured nurturing environment, where transparency is key to building trusting relationships. If a family misses, reschedule as soon as you can in that same week. Also consider seeing them for individual sessions verses placing them in a group. Discuss with the family what you could do differently to better serve them.

What is the ideal group size for implementing Nurturing Families? Is there a specific group of people that this program works best with?

I would have to say a tertiary/treatment level because that is how I developed the program. I paid close attention to their needs and the needs of the Facilitators who have created a career serving our most vulnerable populations. Nurturing Families was also developed for families with children with special health needs, teen, Head Start, and populations struggling with mental health and substance abuse concerns.

Does the Nurturing Families Center have any curriculum that is aligned with child placing agency minimum standards for Texas Foster and Adoptive Pre-Service Training? For example, could someone attend one or more of the trainings, and would it encompass all the standards required for foster-adopt agencies in Texas?

Yes, Nurturing Families meets the standards for Texas Foster and Adoptive Pre-Service when they complete lessons from the 16 competencies. Co-parents are all individuals that consistently touches the lives of children. It can include Grandparents, Foster, Adoption, older siblings, teachers, and blended families.

It is hard to build rapport with some families that have zero access to online services and are not able to meet in person. Do you feel it is possible to work with a family strictly by phone with this program?

Yes, the Nurturing Families program has proven effective on the phone with some families.

I’m new to the facilitator role and find myself struggling a little bit relaying the material as a facilitator. What are some tips to help me improve as a facilitator?

Let us start by commending you for your vulnerability. Practice! Practice! Practice! Stick to the order of the lessons so you learn the intent behind the lesson sequencing. We are here to serve, let us know if you would like an individual facilitator coaching session. The first session is on us.

Is it best practice to relate to a client by saying “I know how that feels”?

This would not be our recommendation. We do not know how people feel. Everyone is unique in their feelings and life experiences. You can say “I am here to listen and try to understand”.  Emotional presence means it is not about you. Empathy means you can feel the intensity of the feeling the other is having because you have felt that intense feeling in your body, throughout your life. You don’t need to have gone through the same experience to be empathetic and emotionally present. Practice acts of compassion from an empathetic place to get better at this.

How would you work with a parent or family that is open to receiving the services, but not receptive of the material provided to them?

We would listen more and talk less. Just spend time bringing joy to their heart. Try not to give advice or ask too many head questions. The “Guess Who” activity, Family Eco-Story and Parenting Styles are great discussions to start with. Discussions should be informal, and the intent is to reach and nurture the heart.

If doing group-based sessions, how many groups should a facilitator have at one time? If doing individual or home visitation sessions, how many families should serve?

Best practice recommendations for Nurturing Families 2nd Edition for tertiary/treatment families is two groups a week. If you are only doing individuals or home visitation, start with 6-8 and once you know the content, you can do 10-12 families very effectively.

Most of the time, I work only with moms because dads are working. Is that good practice when facilitating, or is it recommended that both parents are present?

You can work with any family member that wants to participate, welcome all with a personal invitation, and always serve from a family system perspective. Remember, your focus is the family when working with just one member of the family.

How do you teach a parent that is overwhelmed?

Competencies 1-3 were created for families that are upset or do not necessarily want services from the beginning. Start by always completing these competencies that consist of 10 lessons. This helps with building rapport, emotional regulation, and self-awareness.

I do not have children myself. I know some parents are resistant to parenting instructions or recommendations from non-parents. How would you recommend handling situations where this may be a barrier to facilitating?

Excellent question, thank you for asking. The great thing about the Nurturing Families 2nd Edition  is that it is more about teaching empathy than it is about teaching parents how to parent their children. Because you have a heart and care about others you can be empathetic and supportive just as well as anyone else.

This program is about relationships with self and others. In some of the content you will see where Sonya Thorn, the developer, focused on the relationship between parents and children, and she also focused on the relationship adults have with themselves. You can relate because you are someone’s child, and you can learn the content through an adult lens in a relationship with yourself, and others. There are 85+ lessons, and less than half are through a parenting lens. The majority apply to all people even if they do not have children. Youth ages 11-19 love Nurturing Families 2nd Edition .

Purchasing & Download Questions

Where can I purchase the Nurturing Families 2nd Edition™ ?

We are happy to say that Nurturing Families™ 2nd Edition is complete and available in English and Spanish. Visit the Nurturing Families Center website and click on the “Curriculum” menu item or use this link

You will have the option to place an order for the Facilitator Manual and the Family Workbook license in English and in Spanish. Once you have ordered the curriculum, the center will check their records to ensure you are an active certified trainer or if you are an agency, they will ensure you have active certified facilitators. Then you will receive an email with download instructions.

What if I do not receive an purchase email confirmation with the link?

With all technology, sometimes things go wrong. Firewalls at you agency may filter emails, or the confirmation email may go to a SPAM folder. You may have to ask your IT person to let our email go through your protected firewall by adding our domain ( to their whitelist. If you continue to have problems, please email

How many times can I download the curriculum?

Once. When processing your purchase of the Nurturing Families 2nd Edition manual, it is important that you download the manual from your laptop or desktop. There are two ways to access the download purchased. 

  1. When processing the purchase, you will have the option at the end to download OR
  2. You can access the download from the email receipt that will be sent to the email address entered during purchase.

What if I cannot open the download or it's blank?

During your purchase of the Nurturing Families 2nd Edition manual, make sure you save it in a file that you will have easy access to. Go to the download file where you saved it on your laptop or desktop, and “open with” a web browser of your choice (Chrome, Explorer, Safari, Firefox, etc.) This will depend on your computer system and/or technology departments.

What if someone else is making the purchase for you?

When you have someone else making the purchase for you, please ensure that they enter your information and not theirs. Keep in mind that at the end of the purchase process, there will be an option to open up the download. Ensure that they person making the purchase does NOT open the download as this will affect your ability to access the download.