Protective Factors Framework

About Prevention logoThe Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board utilizes the Strengthening FamiliesTM Protective Factors Framework to guide its own work and the efforts it supports. The Protective Factors Framework helps to identify and build upon the strengths, assets, and needs of families as a means to simultaneously enhance the well-being of children while reducing the risk of child maltreatment. It is an approach and not a program and is designed to be incorporated into the everyday actions of those who work with families. Consequently, the Protective Factors Framework is applicable across the range of programs, service providers, organizations, and audiences.

The Protective Factors Framework was developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy utilizing findings from field observations, a thorough review of research and input from prevention and early childhood experts. Their efforts resulted in a strengths-based, evidence-informed framework, composed of five protective factors. This effort is aimed at promoting the understanding and capacity for developing and enhancing five foundational protective factors which research has shown:

  • Benefits all families
  • Reduces the risk of child maltreatment
  • Strengthens families 
  • Promotes optimal child and youth development

The 5 Protective Factors

Parental Resilience: The ability to recover from difficult life experiences and often to be strengthened by and even transformed by those experiences.

Social Connections: Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental, and spiritual support.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Understanding child development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, and social emotional development.

Concrete Support in Times of Need: Access to concrete support and services that address a family's needs and help minimize stress caused by challenges.

Social Emotional Competence of Children: Family and child interactions that help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships.

Dissemination of the Protective Factors Framework

In 2012 the National Alliance of Children's Trust & Prevention Funds developed the Strengthening FamiliesTM Protective Factors Framework into a curriculum called Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work. The curriculum is designed to assist professionals who work with families and children to promote the optimal development of all children while protecting vulnerable children from harm. It consists of seven 120 minute stand-alone modules which share ways to help practitioners, community members, and parents better understand and address family needs utilizing a strengths-based lens.

The curriculum:

  • Is built on the premise that every family has strengths.
  • Provides a detailed explanation of the five protective factors.
  • Focuses on helping to make "small but significant changes" in practice and service provision, family life, parenting, and child development.

Training participants will leave with:

  • A better understanding of how to utilize the Protective Factors Framework in their work to strengthen families.
  • An understanding on how culture impacts perspectives and how to best work with families.
  • A renewed appreciation for the value of parents as partners in their work.

The Prevention Board offers Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work Training, if you are interested in attending or hosting a training, contact Rebecca.Mather@wisconsin.gov. The National Alliance also offers an online training.