For the last few years, First 5 Contra Costa has been using the Protective Factors framework in our approach to working with families.
Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Protective Factors framework is designed to prevent child abuse and neglect by focusing on five critical areas that help children and families thrive. The five Protective Factors are:
- Parental Resilience: Resilience helps parents to manage the challenges and stress of everyday life.
- Social Connections: Families have a network of friends, family members, neighbors and community members to provide emotional support and help solve problems.
- Concrete Support in Times of Need: Families can meet basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and health care; services are provided during times of crisis.
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Parents have accurate information and appropriate expectations about child development to promote children’s healthy development.
- Social and Emotional Competence in Children: Children can interact positively with others, self-regulate behavior and effectively communicate; children with development delays are identified early and receive appropriate assistance.
When these Protective Factors are present, they help create nurturing, responsive, and stable relationships and learning environments for children. As a result, child outcomes improve. Building Protective factors with and for families also counteracts the presence of adverse childhood experiences caused by traumatic stress.
We use the Protective Factors in our First 5 Centers and home visiting programs. This approach helps make sure all family’s needs are met. For example, at a First 5 Center a parent will learn about child development, can get a developmental screening for their child, will make friends with other families, can meet with a counselor to find services or support, learn how to manage difficult child behavior appropriately, and find opportunities for their children to interact with other children.
Over time, we hope to see Contra Costa’s family-serving programs shift their practice, policies, and systems toward the Protective Factors approach. Our families deserve it.