• November 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 9

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Strengthening Families to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

Strengthening Families is an innovative approach to child abuse and neglect prevention designed to reach millions of children and their families before any maltreatment occurs. A new publication, Allied for Better Outcomes: Child Welfare and Early Childhood, presents an overview of the research and application of this approach for very young children.

In this publication, authors Kate Stapleton, Jean McIntosh, and Beth Corrington, emphasize the promotion of protective factors—as well as the reduction of risk factors—to guide caseworkers and their partners in child welfare in ensuring the healthy development of young children. These protective factors allow families to create healthy, nurturing environments that promote the positive development of children. These factors include:

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

The core of the Strengthening Families approach is the Guiding Principles for Strengthening Families in Child Welfare. When child welfare systems and their partners address the developmental needs of young children and strengthen their families, these principles provide the foundation for their efforts:

  • Families, as first teachers and primary protectors, are fundamental to children's optimal development.
  • Building Protective Factors as well as reducing risk factors strengthens a family's ability to promote optimal development for their children.
  • Relationships—within families and communities, between families and providers, and across systems—are essential as vehicles for change.
  • Systematic and intentional coordination promotes healthy cross-system relationships and maximizes the ability of systems and services to support families and children.
  • Shared accountability for optimal development and strengthened family functioning across broad networks of services and opportunities is essential at all levels.

The authors present a series of five broad goals for developing a web of effective services. Profiles of pilot programs in three States and the lessons learned also are presented. 

Strengthening Families is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) with the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The report is available on the CSSP website:

http://strengtheningfamilies.net/images/uploads/pdf_uploads/ALLIED_FOR_BETTER_OUTCOMES.pdf (985 KB)

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