Across the country, early care and education programs, child welfare departments, and others are using the Strengthening Families approach to build five Protective Factors in families:
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Knowledge of parenting and child development
- Concrete support in times of need
- Children’s social and emotional development
Research shows that these factors reduce the incidence of child abuse and neglect by providing parents with what they need to parent effectively, even under stress. By building relationships with families, programs can recognize signs of stress and build families’ Protective Factors with timely, effective help.
This breakthrough strategy for dealing with child neglect and abuse shows great promise because:
- The Protective Factors have been demonstrated to work and are informed by extensive, rigorous research.
- Activities that build the Protective Factors can be built into programs and systems that already exist in every state, such as early childhood education and child welfare, at little cost.
- Strengthening Families has widespread support from social science researchers, state child welfare officials, early childhood practitioners, and policy experts. Currently, the Strengthening Families approach is being applied in 36 states.
- Early childhood educators want to strengthen families: a National Association for the Education of Young Children survey shows that 97% want to do more to prevent maltreatment.
Although Strengthening Families was developed in early care and education programs, partners in a large variety of settings working with many different populations are exploring ways to apply the approach.