Protective Factors Framework

Protective Factors​​​

​Protective Factors​​ are skills, strengths, resources, supports or coping strategies that help families deal more effectively with the challenges and stessors of life. While there are many types of protective factors that keep families strong, the Center for the Study of Social Policy identified five specific Protective Factors as essential qualities and resources that families need to maintain health and well-being.

All Prevention Board efforts are grounded in Strengthening FamiliesTM Protective Factors Framework. The Framework helps to identify and build upon the strengths, assets and needs of families as a means to enhance children's well-being while reducing the risk of child maltreatment. It is not a program, but an approach, designed to be incorproated into the work structure and everyday actions of those who work with families.

Protective Factor graphic

The Framework was developed by the Center for the Study of S​ocial 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:

  • Social and Emotiona​l 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

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

  • Social Connections: Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support
  • Parental Resilience: Managing stress and functioning well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma
  • 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
Research demonstrates that the five Protective Factors:

  • ​Benefit and strengthen all families​
  • Promote optimal child and youth development
  • Reduce the risk of child maltreatment
  • Can be built through family's daily interactions with individuals, communities and systems

Five f​or Families

The concept and language of Protective Factors is often familiar to family support professionals and policymakers but be less so to others. The Prevention Board, in partnership with parents, caregivers and professionals, developed a public awareness campaign called Five for Families​ to translate the Protective Factors into everyday language for families and communities.​