Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Strong Happy Families: The Strengthening Families Approach

In 2001, The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) began studying how education programs and early child care across the country could prevent child abuse and neglect and build healthy, happy families.  They came up with an approach called Strengthening Families.

After spending years researching and learning from exemplary programs across the nation, the CSSP moved Strengthening Families into a pilot phase.  Several states then began implementing the Strengthening Families foundation into the policies and practices of their early childhood, child abuse prevention, and child protective services departments. Since its pilot phase, Strengthening Families has grown to be fully active in 35 states, with 5 more implementing at least some level of the Strengthening Families approach.       

The foundation of the Strengthening Families approach is the Protective Factors Framework.   

The five protective factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families strategy.  Research studies have shown that when the Protective Factors are in place the likelihood of child abuse and neglect decreases significantly! Research has ALSO shown that the Protective Factors build an environment that promotes optimal child development! 

The 5 Protective Factors are:  

1. Parental Resilience

      Resilience is the ability to manage the stress that will most definitely come while parenting and bounce back from the everyday struggles of raising children.  Look for ways to manage your stress and get help when you need it!  

     2.  Social Connections
      Social connections help parents receive emotional support, solve problems, and find advice and concrete aid.  Family, friends, and Help Me Grow are great ways to help parents stay connected and receive the help they need!

     3. Concrete Support in Time of Need
      For families to succeed, they need tangible help in times of need. This can be anything from food and shelter to health care and treatment.   

    4.  Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

      Understanding a child’s development will help with viewing them in a positive light and being able to celebrate important milestones with them.  Education on child development can come from so many sources, such as the internet, family members, or Help Me Grow!  

    5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children

      How children interact with those around them plays a huge role in their relationships with their parents and peers.  If you notice your child has difficulties communicating or interacting positively with friends or family, it is important to connect with any available resources to improve those behaviors early on.

Implementing the Protective Factors into your family is a great way to build on relationships that are already strong and improve on those that are struggling. To learn more about them check out these Protective Factors One Pagers.  They can also help families you know get through difficult times or just build a more stable foundation for their children!

So share this information with your loved ones and friends!

Also check out the partner organizations that support Strengthening Families here! And keep up on how Strengthening Families is changing your community here! 

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