Protective Factors​​​ Framework

​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​ utilized findings from field observations, a thorough review of research and input from prevention and early childhood experts to develop the Strengthening FamiliesTM Protective Factors Framework. This framework indentifies five specific protective factors that represent the essential qualities and resources that families need to maintain the necessary health and well-being to support optimal child development. The five protective factors are:

  • Social and Emotiona​l Competence of Children
  • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • Social Connections
  • Parental Resilience
  • Concrete Support in Times of Need

The five Protective Factors strengthen the roots of family well-being and provide a common language to talk about family strength. To be most effective, knowledge of the five Protective Factors needs to be integrated into all aspects of organizational and community interactions with families. 

​The Prevention Board seeks to increase awareness and approaches that enhance protective factors​​

All Prevention Board eff​orts are grounded in Strengthening FamiliesTM Protective Factors Framework​. The Framework helps to identify and build upon the strengths and assets, and address the needs of families to enhance children's well-being while reducing the risk of child maltreatment. It is not a program, but an approach. It is designed to be incorporated into the work structure and everyday actions of those who interact with families, and to be utilized by families themselves as a framework that assists them in understanding, identifying, and building their own family strengths.

Public and Community Awareness​

The Prevention Board, in partnership with parents, caregivers and professionals, developed a public awareness campaign to increase exposure and disseminate understanding of protective factors among families and the communities in which they live. The  Five for Families campaign utilizes everyday language that is more relatable for those without a child development or social service background. Within the campaign, the five protective factors are known as the Five Strengths, and accompanying descriptions are strengths-based and family-centered. A central feature of the campaign is the Five for Families​ Website. Promotional resources for the Five for Families campaign can be found in the Five for Families toolkit.

Parent Education 

All the Prevention Board funded educational programming and activities are grounded in the Protective Factors Framework and show evidence of child maltreatment prevention or address related risk factors. The Prevention Board is creating the Five for Families parent curriculum to enable families to explore their family strengths in partnership with family serving educators. Families are guided through activities that highlight different aspects of each strength. The curriculum can be offered one on one between educator and parent, in small groups of parents or as large group activities. Activities are chosen based on the interests and needs of the individual caregiver or the group.

Professional Development

The Prevention Board works with partners to provide Bringing the Protective​ Factors Framework to Life in Your Work training​ to family service professionals throughout Wisconsin. The goal of the training is to assist professionals in identifying the impact of protective factors in their own lives and help them to identify strategies for communicating information about protective factors to those they partner with and serve. A focus of the training is to enable professionals to incorporate protective factors into their everyday actions and the daily work they do. Having a common understanding the protective factors framework creates a shared language between staff and with parents. This common understanding also facilitates the integration of the protective factors into the organization and the community.

Integration into Practice

In addition to professional development, the Prevention Board supports integration of Protective Factors by incorporating this focus into grant requirements, including the expectation that all family serving staff will attend the Protective Factors Training. The Prevention Board partners with family-serving organizations to embed certified Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work trainers into their organization. The Prevention Board provides technical support and funding to incorporate parent co-presenters into the training. Grant funds are also allocated to family resource centers for a portion of a staff member’s time to focus on protective factors integration in their organization and community.​