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April 2014Vol. 15, No. 4New Protective Factors Literature Review

A new research brief explores the important role that protective factors play within the vulnerable populations served by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF). Protective factors are conditions or attributes of individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that can promote well-being and reduce the risk for negative outcomes. It is especially important to understand the role these factors play in the following vulnerable populations:

  • Children exposed to domestic violence
  • Homeless and runaway youth
  • Pregnant and parenting teens
  • Victims of child abuse and neglect
  • Youth in and aging out of the foster care system

In their research, the authors sought to provide a foundation for the development of a protective factors framework that could inform programs and policy to improve outcomes for these populations. To address these questions, a comprehensive literature review on protective factors was conducted and input was requested from a national expert panel, Federal agency officials, and practitioners working with the ACYF population groups.

As a result of this research, the brief provides graphic models highlighting the protective factors that have the most evidence of influence at the individual, family, and community levels for each of the subgroups within the vulnerable child and youth populations. The document also outlines recommendations to inform current and future initiatives to implement knowledge of protective factors in ACYF policies and practices.

Promoting Protective Factors for In-Risk Families and Youth: A Brief for Researchers is available here: (496 KB)

Related Item

Child Welfare Information Gateway, the information service for the Children's Bureau, recently published a new issue brief titled Protective Factors Approaches in Child Welfare. The issue brief, written in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Social Policy and the Children's Bureau provides an overview of protective factors approaches to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect and is designed to help policymakers, administrators, child welfare and related professionals, service providers, advocates, and others understand the concepts of risk and protective factors in families and communities. The issue brief is available here: