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Strengthening Families Protective Factors

Strengthening Families is a research-based, cost-effective framework developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) over the last decade to increase family strengths, enhance child development and reduce child abuse and neglect. This approach helps child welfare systems, early education, prevention organizations and other programs work with parents to build five protective factors that, when present, increase the overall well-being of children and families. Protective factors are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress.

Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families approach:

  • Enhancing parental resilience
  • Providing an array of social connections
  • Providing parents concrete support in times of need
  • Facilitating knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Supporting healthy social & emotional development in young children

Families thrive when protective factors are robust in their lives and communities.  By providing parents, child care professionals and others who work with children more information about these protective factors, we can help build protective factors in families with young children, building on family strengths and promoting optimal child and youth development.

Strengthening Families FrameworkProtective Factors Wheel

  • Benefits ALL families.
  • Builds on family strengths, buffers risk, and promotes better outcomes.
  • Builds on and can be integrated into existing programs, strategies, systems and community opportunities.
  • Can be implemented through small but significant changes in everyday actions by individuals & organizations.
  • Is grounded in research, practice and implementation knowledge.

What We Want To See
Communities and families, institutions, service systems and organizations:

  • Focus on building and promoting protective factors to reduce risk and create optimal outcomes for children, youth and families
  • Recognize and support parents as decision makers and leaders
  • Value the culture and unique assets of each family
  • Take mutual responsibility for better outcomes for children, youth and families

What Missouri is Doing
Strong Parents, Stable ChildrenMissouri was one of seven original Strengthening Families™ pilot states selected by the CSSP and is one of 30 states who have adopted the Strengthening Families approach into their work with children and families.  Missouri Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) continues to integrate the Strengthening Families Framework and promote the protective factors in a number of ways:

  • Embedding & making the protective factors a priority in the grant application process
  • Creating public education materials that highlight the protective factors
  • Providing training opportunities and materials to professionals and the general public through Strong Parents, Stable Children: Building Protective Factors to Strengthen Families
    • For additional information, please call CTF at 573.751.5147 or visit the CTF Training Schedule webpage to learn about upcoming training opportunities in your area, to schedule a training &/or to host a training.
  • Encouraging grant applicants to complete the introductory module of free online training
  • Requiring grant recipients to complete the entire free online training course
  • Funding research through the CBCAP model to measure change of protective factors
  • Funding for revision of Kansas-Missouri Bi-State Core Competencies for Early Care and Education Professionals to include protective factors.
  • Participating on the Missouri Prevention Partners Coalition which serves as the state advisory group for SFF.



View the latest state profile to learn more about Strengthening Families efforts in Missouri.


Make Time for 9!Resources
Strengthening Families Protective Factors Poster
Strengthening Families Protective Factors Rack Card
Strengthening Families Protective Factors Information Sheet
CSSP Parent Brochure on Strengthening Families
CSSP Strengthening Families Webpage
Online Data Tool & Self Assessment
National Alliance of CTF’s Information Sheet on Training
National Alliance Protective Factors Free Online Training
Training – Strong Parents, Stable Children:  Building Protective Factors To Strengthen Families
Child Care Aware – A Guide for Early Care Professionals

Additional Resources
Strengthening Families is coordinated by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and supported by:
Child Welfare Information Gateway
The Finance Project
FRIENDS National Resource Center
The National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds
Parents As Teachers
United Way Worldwide