Center for the Study of Social Policy - 40 Years of Innovation
Ideas Into Action


At its heart, Strengthening Families is about changing how service providers interact with families to support them in building protective factors. Strengthening Families is implemented through small but significant changes in daily practice, supported by shifts at the program level that allow workers to make those changes. A number of tools are available to support those shifts in practice. Click on the headings below to explore the resources and materials available to help you do this.

Program Self-Assesments

The Strengthening Families Program Self-Assessment outlines how the protective factors can be supported through small but significant changes in program practice. 

Four versions of the Self-Assessment are available for the types of programs and agencies that most often implement Strengthening Families.
Our national partners at Mosaic Network provide an online data system where programs can enter data from any of the self-assessments as well as the Protective Factors Survey and a staff survey. The system is designed to help programs track and analyze their self-assessment results and support state-level administrators in aggregating data across many programs. 

Aligning Practice with Strengthening Families

The Strengthening Families approach can be used in any setting serving children and families, typically without making huge changes in daily practice. Programs seeking to align their practice with Strengthening Families, and agencies seeking to support grantees in making these changes, will find guidance below.

Tools to Support Implementation

Making the Link

Families can get support for building protective factors through many different programs, including evidence-based programs and practice models. CSSP has worked with the developers of the frameworks and programs listed below to help “make the link” between these programs and the Strengthening Families protective factors.

Parenting Education and Support

Home Visiting

Child Welfare


Protective Factors Action Sheets

This packet includes the research brief about each protective factor as well as an “action sheet” for service providers about their role in supporting families to build each protective factor. The action sheets include what to look for, questions to ask and activities to do with parents related to each protective factor.


Practice Tools for Child Welfare 

These tools were developed by CSSP with partners in child welfare systems that were shifting to a protective factors approach. The tools are designed to help child welfare workers use a protective factors lens at important points in a child welfare case. In addition, “Taking Care of Yourself” helps workers to think about the protective factors in their own lives in the context of their difficult work. Finally, a guide for coaching to a protective factors approach helps supervisors reinforce the approach and support workers’ efforts to shift their practice.


Additional Resources

A series of monographs prepared in the early years of Strengthening Families are still relevant in their approach to specific opportunities for child- and family-serving organizations to better serve families.

Including Men
Mental Health Services
Physical Space
Promoting Social and Emotional Development of Children
Staff Leadership to Create Relationships that Protect Children

Building Parent Partnerships



  • Café Overview and Fidelity Checklist - A key element in many states' and communities' implementation of Strengthening Families has been the use of café-style conversations among parents and caregivers. This document describes what cafés are and how they are used, and highlights some of the most widely used models in the Strengthening Families National Network. This document also includes a checklist of core elements that should be present for cafés to be successful in building parent leadership and protective factors, regardless of the model used.
  • Parent Cafés
  • Community Cafés 
  • Caring Conversations Café Model

Training/Professional Development

Many resources are available for training child- and family-serving professionals about the Protective Factors Framework and how to use it in their work – including guidance from CSSP about what should be included in a training, training materials for use with child welfare workers and curricula available from our partners. Supportive supervision is also critical in ongoing professional development and implementation of Strengthening Families.

  • *NEW* Speakers Registry Available. CSSP has compiled a list of speakers with expertise in the Strengthening Families approach, who can be a resource when you are looking for a speaker, moderator or panelist for a conference or workshop. These speakers come from a number of different fields and can provide an overview of Strengthening Families, along with the Protective Factors. To request a speaker, email Cailin O'Connor.

CSSP's Strengthening Families Curriculum

In partnership with several jurisdictions that are implementing Strengthening Families in their child welfare systems, CSSP has developed a scripted curriculum introducing the Protective Factors Framework and the small but significant changes workers can make in their child welfare practice. Some of the curriculum content will also be relevant for other audiences.

Ensuring Accountability

Programs and systems taking a protective factors approach need to ensure that their efforts are effective, making a difference for families and making good use of the funds invested in them. CSSP and other partners have developed tools for measuring the protective factors through parent self-report.

Parents' Assessment of Protective Factors

The Parents’ Assessment of Protective Factors is a strengths-based measure to assess the presence, strength and growth of parents’ self-reported beliefs, feelings and behaviors that are regarded as indicators of the Strengthening Families protective factors. It is intended for parents of young children (birth - 8). Results of the assessment can be used to engage a parent as a partner in mobilizing resources to strengthen adult capabilities and to provide a family environment that promotes optimal child development and reduces the likelihood of negative child and family outcomes.

Protective Factors Survey

The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention is a key national partner supporting implementation of Strengthening Families in states. FRIENDS worked with the University of Kansas to develop and disseminate the Protective Factors Survey, a pre-post evaluation tool for use with caregivers receiving child maltreatment prevention services or participating in other child and family-serving programs implementing Strengthening Families.

The Research Behind Strengthening Families

As a research-informed approach, Strengthening Families is the product of both foundational and ongoing research and knowledge development.


Strengthening Families Online Data System

Our national partners at Mosaic Network provide an online data system where programs can enter data from any of the self-assessments as well as the Protective Factors Survey and a staff survey. The system is designed to help programs track and analyze their self-assessment results and support state-level administrators in aggregating data across many programs. 


Stay Informed

Youth Thrive

This multi-year initiative examines how foster youth can be supported in ways that advance healthy development and well-being and reduce the impact of negative life experiences. Youth Thrive uses a Protective and Promotive Factors Framework aimed at youth and young adults ages 11-26 and along with Strengthening Families helps provide a view of two interrelated phases of the lifespan developmental continuum.

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