Building protective factors, especially in children and families that are at-risk for negative outcomes, is the foundation of the family support approach. Extensive research supports the common-sense notion that when these protective factors are present and robust in a family, the likelihood of child abuse and neglect, school failure, and economic challenges diminish:
•Resilience: The ability to cope and bounce back from all types of challenges.
•Social Connections: Friends, family members, neighbors and other members of a community who provide emotional, social, and concrete support to parents.
•Knowledge of parenting and child development: Accurate information about raising young children helps parents develop age appropriate expectations for their behavior; practice helps parents develop productive parenting skills.
•Concrete support in times of need: Financial options to cover day-to-day expenses and unexpected costs that come up from time to time, access to formal supports like child care subsidies, WIC, housing benefits and Healthy Families, and informal support from social networks.
•Children's social and emotional competence: A child's ability to interact positively with others and communicate his or her emotions effectively.
•Family economic stability: Access to work that pays living wages, workplace skills, training & re-training programs, financial literacy, access to mainstream banking and capacity to save and build family assets.
•Social and emotional competence of adults: Self-efficacy, confidence, problem resolution and decision skills, ability to make and keep productive relationships.
•Capable communities: Safe & clean neighborhoods, resourced with recreation, workplaces, faith communities, and commercial entities that meet family basic needs.
Friends of the Family's programs use strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness in building the protective factors known to prevent or reduce negative outcomes, including:
•Facilitate friendships and mutual support
•Respond to family crisis
•Link families to services, activities and opportunities
•Facilitate children's social and emotional development
•Observe and respond to early warning signs of child abuse or neglect
•Value and support parents
•Mentoring and Coaching
•Increase economic opportunities and development