ICDP: Best Start for Families-a health equity approach in Illinois

The Changing Children’s Worlds Foundation has adopted a new state-wide strategy to expand and build sustainability for the “ICDP: Best Start for Families-A Health Equity Approach in Illinois.

The Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) will launch the Best Start for Families to support more families involved with the Child Welfare system.   This experiential training model provides families with the necessary motivation, tools and skills to navigate the challenges of parenting successfully.  

In parallel, the LCFS “Best Start for Families” Department will continue its commitment to partnering with schools, community organizations, jails and other agencies serving families and children.

The “Best Start for Families-A Health Equity Approach” curriculum is based on the International Child Development Program (ICDP), an internationally tested and supported psycho-social approach to strengthening adult caregiver/parent-child relationships. It is recognized as an Effective Practice by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

“Best Start for Families starts with the training of professional resource persons within institutions and communities who serve families,” explained Kimberly Svevo, Ph.D., Department Director at LCFS. “Its comprehensive parent learning group curriculum equips parents with a deep understanding of what they and their children need to thrive, as well as effective parenting techniques, communication strategies, and problem-solving skills, which strengthen and bring joy to family relationships.”

The program offers a range of services for caregivers, youth and children, including individual coaching, weekly group sessions, and workshops. By providing parents with the tools they need to foster healthy relationships and create supportive home environments, LCFS strives to strengthen families and promote positive long-term outcomes for children.

“The Best Start for Families program felt like a natural fit for us,” said Mike Bertrand, President & CEO at LCFS. “It allows us to not only meet a significant need of the families we currently serve through our foster care program, but also aligns with our organization’s strategic direction of providing more preventative services to families within our local communities before things get bad.”

By extending their expertise beyond foster care and their other DCFS-funded services, LCFS takes proactive steps to support families, preventing crises and creating stronger foundations for children’s well-being.

Already, LCFS has made tremendous strides in delivering parenting training to families in need by utilizing the Best Start for Families program. The organization is currently successfully serving nearly 50 parents in their foster care program and previously on a parenting class waiting list, underlining their commitment to ensuring access to vital resources and support.

LCFS is also excited to offer to train others in this effective model. By equipping social work and mental health professionals, educators, home visitors, childcare providers, nurses, community leaders, and all who work directly with parents and children, LCFS aims to create a ripple effect of positive change in the lives of families.

For more information about Best Start for Families and LCFS’s mission to nurture and strengthen children and families in need, visit


Lutheran Children and Family Services of Illinois (LCFS) is a non-profit dedicated to nurturing and strengthening children and families in need. After 150 years, LCFS has grown into one of the largest community-based child welfare agencies in Illinois. LCFS has regional sites in the Chicagoland area, Belleville, Decatur, Joliet, Kankakee, Mt. Vernon, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Quincy and Springfield. For more information, visit