Strengthening Families Alaska

What is Strengthening Families Alaska?

Strengthening Families™ is a research-informed, strength-based approach to helping families reduce stress, address risk factors, and promote healthy development. The overarching goal is the promotion of child and family well-being. It is based on engaging families, programs and communities in building five protective factors that help families succeed and thrive, even in the face of risk and challenges. Alaska was selected in 2005 by the Center for the Study of Social Policy to pilot this approach and continues to work with programs and communities in implementing this framework.

The Strengthening Families approach

  • Benefits ALL families and communities
  • Builds on family strengths, buffers risk, and promotes better outcomes
  • Can be implemented through small but significant changes in everyday actions
  • Builds on and can become a part of existing programs, strategies, systems and community opportunities
  • Is grounded in research, practice and implementation knowledge

What is special about this approach?

Communities, providers, and families can embed five protective factors seamlessly into their ongoing work to the benefit of families and children. Five Protective Factors are the foundation of the Strengthening Families Approach: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children. Research studies support the common-sense notion that when these Protective Factors are well established in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect diminishes. Research shows that these Protective Factors are also “promotive” factors that build family strengths and a family environment that promotes optimal child and youth development.

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Protective Factors

The Center for the Study of Social Policy initially spent two years researching and identifying five protective factors that prevent child abuse and neglect. Since the introduction of the Strengthening Families approach, the research base that originally informed the development of the protective factors framework, as well as scientific advances in various disciplines, has burgeoned. These advances in knowledge have deepened the understanding about child development and behavior, the developmental impacts of trauma, and the pathways to child and family well-being. In 2014, CSSP published a synthesis of current ideas and research from the neurobiological, behavioral, and social sciences that further inform, the evidence base of CSSP’s Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework. The five protective factors associated in research that are related to the prevention of child maltreatment are: :

For adults:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need

For children:

  • Healthy social and emotional development