In light of the latest shootings, it is time to think about how to support and strengthen our families and communities for the sake of our children.  More information on the Strengthening Families model can be found at  http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing

The Children’s Bureau (US Department of Health and Human Services) believes that we all want to live in a nation that is prosperous, innovative, and supports the healthy development of children. In addition, they believe that when ‘we’ invest in children, ‘we’ are investing in ‘our’ future as community and economic development. Sometimes this is not the case and children live in families/conditions that are not healthy for their positive development. The Strengthening Families model is a strategy to combat negative environments that impact children, which in turn promotes healthy and stronger children.

The Strengthening Families model bases its practice on the understanding that there are five essential protective factors needed in order for children to thrive. Research has shown that the following protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.

1. Nurturing and attachment for the healthy social and emotional development of children

  • Early experiences of being nurtured/bonding with a caring adult affects all aspect of behavior and development
  • Children develop trust that their parents will provide for their needs, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection

2. Working knowledge of parenting and child development

  • Developmentally appropriate practice – includes appropriate behavior guidance and environment/activities
  • Belief that parents who understand how children grow and develop are better able to provide developmentally appropriate guidance and activities
  • Child abuse and neglect are often associated with a lack of understanding of basic child development, or inability to put knowledge into action

3. Parental resiliency

  • The ability to handle everyday stressors and recover from occasional crises
  • Emotionally resilient parents have a positive attitude, creatively solve problems, effectively address challenges

4. Social connections

  • Evidence links social isolation and perceived lack of support to child maltreatment
  • Supportive adults in the family and community can model alternative parenting styles, and serve as resources for parents when they need help

5. Access to basic needs when they are needed

  • Many factors beyond the parent-child relationship affect a family’s ability to care for their children
  • Parents need resources for basic needs – food, shelter, clothing etc.
  • Some families may need support connecting to social services- mental health and addiction issues, domestic violence counseling etc.

What are ways you promote stronger families and stronger children?

More information can be found at http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing