- Parental Resilience
- Social Connections
- Concrete Support in Times of Need
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
- Social and Emotional Competence of Children
If you have not heard of the Five Protective Factors, they are the foundation for strengthening families; an approach to activate communities to build family strengths, promote development and reduce child abuse and neglect. The Strengthening Families Approach is grounded in research, practice and implementation knowledge. As a community, we are mutually responsible for better outcomes, and the framework encourages all of us working with children and families to focus on building protective and promotive factors to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect and create optimal outcomes for all. It also calls on us to recognize and support parents as decision makers and leaders and value the culture and unique assets of each family.
As an early childhood educator, you may be thinking, “What can I do to support families?” The following are strategies to help strengthen the families you serve:
- Facilitate friendships and mutual support:
- Connect families that you feel would be a good fit with each other. Think about their parenting styles and their children’s personalities. Suggest play dates to connect the two families together.
- Organize group outings at a nearby park. Invite families to join you and have a picnic.
- Picnic with parents on your school site. Parents will often naturally sit with their child’s friends’ parents.
- Strengthen parenting skills:
- Provide formal parent education regularly at your site.
- Provide parenting tips in each newsletter.
- Send home the Backpack Series articles from the Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention (TACSEI): challengingbehavior.org.
- Link families to services and opportunities:
- Value and support parents:
- Build a relationship with parents.
- Listen to their concerns.
- Be responsive to their communication.
- Give them grace ~ parenting is difficult.
- Further children’s social and emotional development:
- Explicitly teach social and emotional skills.
- Reinforce pro-social skills at high rates.
- Provide opportunities to practice social and emotional skill development.
- Observe and respond to early warning signs of abuse and neglect:
- By law, you are a mandated reporter. For training see: http://mandatedreporterca.com/
- If you have a “reasonable suspicion” of any abuse or neglect, you must report it to Child Protective Services Orange County: 714-940-1000 or 800-207-4464.
The “Strengthening Families Approach” benefits all families and can be implemented through our everyday actions. As early childhood educators, we are in a prime position to provide effective interventions to strengthen our families and better support our children.
Resource: Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP): Strengthening Families ~ A Protective Factors Framework: www.strengtheningfamilies.net