Protective Factors

Strengthening Families is built on two key beliefs: 1) all families have strengths and 2) all families need support. The Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework shifts the focus from “what’s wrong” to “what’s strong” and encourages us to see strengths and promote the development of five protective factors that keep families strong. Protective factors are:


  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • Social Connections
  • Concrete Supports in Times of Need
  • Parental Resilience
  • Social and Emotional Competence in Children


While these are not the only protective factors, it is important to note that four of the five focus on the factor within the parents and only one focuses on the child.


The Protective Factors Framework is:


  • A purposeful and intentional approach to working with families in all child- and family-serving systems
  • Easy concepts for parents and professionals to grasp
  • A universally inclusive approach that values the input of parents working side by side with professionals
  • Common sense (or logical) linkages to many federal and state requirements
  • Support for all child and family service systems to view the connectedness of our work
  • A common language for all of us to adopt


Research about the Protective Factors has been conducted by the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds.



The Pennsylvania Strengthening Families Leadership Team, organized in 2006 through the efforts of the PA Children’s Trust Fund with the Office of Child Development and Early Learning and the Center for School and Communities leading the organization, meets quarterly and addresses:


  • Policy – Systems approach: Examine linkages among systems, development of organizational, local, regional and statewide policies and guidelines that support and grow the SFPF
  • Practice – Among professionals: Growing opportunities for professional development about SFPF and experiences that emphasize a strengths-based approach with family work among health, human services, child welfare, early care and education and other professionals
  • Parents – As partners: Expanding parents’ role in determining their own use of services and supports, and participation in community, regional and statewide decision-making boards
  • Messaging – Asset orientation: Work to use strength-based messages, to shift our lens from blame and shame to awareness and growth