Protective Factors Strengthen Families

By: Eminet Gurganus, MPH

There is growing recognition that the foundations of a healthy, productive life are built in early childhood.

There is also a growing understanding that in order to help at-risk children succeed, our interventions must build on parents’ strengths to overcome adversity from social and economic hurdles so they can better support their children’s optimal healthy development.

As part of our commitment here at the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health to promote the optimal healthy development of children, we are embracing the Protective Factors Framework championed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

The framework centers on five protective factors that have been proven by research to strengthen families and lead to positive outcomes for children and parents.

The Center identifies those factors as:

  1. Parental Resilience: Giving parents the support and resources needed to manage stress and function well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.
  2. Social Connections: Encouraging parents to build positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support.
  3. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Providing parents with knowledge so they better understand child development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
  4. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Providing parents with access to concrete support and services that address a family’s needs and help minimize stress caused by challenges.
  5. Social-Emotional Competence of Children: Encouraging parents to engage in family and child interactions that help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions, and establish and maintain relationships.

As part of our commitment to embrace the Protective Factors Framework, we are providing training to our own community-oriented programs and also to organizations that operate independently in the community. So far, our community partners have welcomed the Office’s technical assistance to help them implement the framework and measure their progress in strengthening families.

We believe these protective factors will strengthen families and build resilience in the next generation of youth.

Eminet Abebe Gurganus is the program manager for innovation and practice quality improvement for the Connecticut Children’s Office for Community Child Health. Learn more »

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