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Strengthening Families: Prevention


In keeping with the goal of focusing on strengths instead of deficits, the Strengthening Families approach uses a logic model for reducing child abuse and neglect based on building resiliency rather than reducing risk.

Program Strategies and Worker Practices chart.

Parent Resiliency: Parents who are emotionally resilient are able to maintain a positive attitude, creatively solve problems, and effectively rise to challenges in their lives -- and are less likely to abuse or neglect their children. Programs can promote parental resilience in a variety of ways -providing a warm and welcoming environment to parents as well as children, providing family support services on site, and offering social and emotional activities for children that may impact the way parents think about their own behavior.

Social Connections: Extensive evidence links social isolation and child maltreatment. It is not the simple fact of social connectedness that protects against child abuse and neglect however, but rather relationships that are positive, trusting, reciprocal, and flexible, and that embody pro-social, child-friendly values. Programs can strengthen social connections by creating a community space and opportunities for parents to connect with other parents in a comfortable environment. Additionally, many programs serve as a conduit for a variety of social activities, from holiday celebrations to bowling leagues.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Child and family support programs are a natural place for parents to turn for parenting information and support. There are countless “teachable moments” that can be used to apply and reinforce positive parenting principles in an everyday context. Providing formal and informal opportunities for parents to gain parenting knowledge and skills can help them develop appropriate expectations of their children’s abilities and behaviors.

Support in Times of Need: Many programs serve families facing multiple stressors and multiple risks. Research suggests that helping families access material resources and/or behavioral health services represent two promising intervention strategies to reduce child abuse and neglect.

Children’s Healthy Social and Emotional Development:For parents with particularly challenging children, the social and emotional work program staff do with children can provide welcome added support and reduce the stress in their family home. As children learn to verbalize their emotions rather than act them out, they are more able to tell parents how they feel, what they need, and how their parents’ actions make them feel. Parents can then be more responsive to their children’s needs and less likely to yell or hit.