Familias Fuertes

Familias Fuertes is a comprehensive training resource for a community-based organization to equip promotores de salud (promotores) with knowledge and skills to support a Latino family with a child coping with cancer. Children coping with cancer include children who have pediatric cancer or children who have a close family member (e.g., parent, sibling) with cancer. The Familias Fuertes training guide is bilingual English/Spanish and trains promotores across seven one-hour sessions.


After completing Familias Fuertes, promotores will have the following knowledge and skills.

The knowledge to:

  • Explain cancer in age-specific and culturally-appropriate ways.
  • Identify and explain available treatment options for cancer.
  • Explain possible treatment side-effects.
  • Understand the mental, physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities and issues of children coping with cancer.

The skills to:

  • Talk to children about what they are experiencing in an age-specific and culturally-appropriate manner.
  • Conduct a needs assessment of a child coping with cancer to determine the resources and support he or she needs.
  • Research available resources to support the child coping with cancer throughout diagnosis, treatment, and remission.
  • Liaise with the child’s school and related professionals (e.g., social worker) to arrange for continuing education in the event of absences from school.
  • Help parents and children talk openly and effectively about their feelings.
  • Discuss end-of-life or palliative care choices.
  • Help children resume their former lives after treatment.




Session 1 helps facilitators set respectful ground rules for the Familias Fuertes training; allows participants to get to know each other and share past experiences on the topic; provides an introduction to working with children coping with cancer; lists child developmental stages and how to communicate with children at an age- and developmentally-appropriate level; and reviews key promotora attributes.


Cancer and Its Impact on Children
Session 2 provides an overview of human anatomy, including organ names in Spanish and English; lists the basic facts about cancer; and concludes with a review of the emotional, physical, and social impact of cancer on children.


Overcoming Barriers and Understanding Client Needs
Session 3 orients promotoras to the types of challenges their clients may experience; teaches promotoras to think about their clients’ cultural beliefs; provides an opportunity for promotoras to brainstorm ways to establish themselves in the community; and guides promotoras through a needs assessment to gauge the needs of their client.


Resources for Children Coping with Cancer
Session 4 provides a review of common resources which children with cancer need and how to locate the resources; and helps promotoras gain the skills to assess the reliability of information they find before passing it along to their clients.


Communicating with Children, Families, and Schools
Session 5 describes how a child’s comprehension of disease changes as he or she ages and the types of questions children may ask; provides tips for promotoras to encourage open communication among the child’s family; and teaches promotoras how to serve as a liaison with the child’s school on behalf of the family.


Assistance during Treatment

Session 6 teaches promotoras how to familiarize themselves and their clients with the treatment center; provides an overview of clinical trials and how to find appropriate clinical trials for their clients, if necessary; and helps promotoras gain the skills to assess stress in their clients and encourage open discussion about death and dying.


Remission and Beyond
Session 7 encourages promotoras to develop a plan to help a child coping with cancer through remission and resume his or her life; allows promotoras to reflect on the lessons learned during the program; and concludes with a short course evaluation and certificates of completion.