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May 2017Vol. 18, No. 3New Protective Factors Podcast

Child Welfare Information Gateway released the first episode in a two-part podcast series called Protective Factors. Part 1 of this series focuses on the definition of protective factors as they pertain to child welfare, how child welfare professionals can identify and distinguish protective factors when working with parents and families, and how protective factors can be applied across entire communities and community-based programs.

This podcast features interviews with Cailin O’Connor, a senior policy analyst for the Center for Study in Social Policy (CSSP) and a key figure in CSSP’s Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework, and Tabitha Kelly, division chief with the Arlington County, VA, Children and Family Services.

Ms. O'Connor discusses the five primary protective factors under the Strengthening Families Framework:

  • Parental resilience includes the ability of parents to thrive despite adversity and refers to parents’ mental health status and ability perform their parental duties despite the challenges they may be facing in their day-to-day lives.
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development includes having appropriate expectations for what children can do at certain ages, making appropriate decisions based on the individual child and his or her developmental readiness, and, particularly with families who have children with special needs, understanding their own child.
  • Social connections include the importance of having a support system for parents, such as having someone to call when they need someone to watch the children on short notice.
  • Concrete supports in times of need includes having access to services like child welfare intervention and domestic violence support, food pantries, and supportive neighbors during challenging times.
  • Nurturing children’s social-emotional competence includes supporting parents as they help their child develop social-emotional skills.

Ms. Kelly describes some strategies that workers in Arlington, VA, use based on the protective factors framework to partner with families to create positive future outcomes for children. These strategies include asking parents questions that touch on each protective factor, interviewing families to get a better sense of their situations and support systems, and more.

To listen to the first installment of the Protective Factors podcast series, visit