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


Strengthening Families has had its greatest impact by not only changing practice in programs, but by changing the systems that help to govern how programs operate, are held accountable and are resourced. Across the country the Strengthening Families framework is being used both within the key systems that govern programs for children and families and as a common framework for aligning practice and approaches across systems. This section of the website provides more detail on thinking on using a Strengthening Frame to support cross-systems collaboration; tools to support the many cross-sector leadership teams leading the Strengthening Families work across the country; and tools and information to support Strengthening Families work within four key implementation sectors—early care and education, child abuse and neglect prevention, home visiting and child welfare.

Cross-Systems Implementation

While it can benefit families when a single program or system (or even a single worker) focuses on helping them build protective factors, the true benefits of Strengthening Families implementation come when it is implemented across systems. The Protective Factors Framework provides a common language and set of outcomes to help leaders and workers across systems find ways to work together to make the greatest impact.

Engaging Many Partners: Messaging at the Intersections

CSSP has developed materials to help programs and states initiate discussions with new stakeholders around how Strengthening Families relates to their work. The idea is to bring the message to new groups of professionals who interact with children and families on a regular basis. To date these one-pagers include why the work is important and initial action steps that can be taken by:

Tools for Strengthening Families Leadership Teams

Leading and coordinating Strengthening Families efforts requires a cross-systems, collaborative approach. Learn about the core functions of implementing Strengthening Families at any level, find tools for reaching out to new partners and see other tools for leadership teams below.

Implementation in Early Care and Education Systems

Across the country, Strengthening Families is being used to reshape how early care and education programs engage parents – and how early childhood systems at the state and local level can encourage, support and incentivize those changes.



State Approaches to Integrating Strengthening Families into Quality Rating and Improvement

Strengthening Families identifies what early care and education programs can do to help parents support their children’s development and to build strong relationships between family members and staff. At its core, Strengthening Families is about parent and family engagement. This issue brief demonstrates the advantages of using Strengthening Families, describes implementation tools, and highlights state approaches to integrating Strengthening Families into QRIS.

In 2014, BUILD Initiative & QRIS National Learning Network hosted a webinar about QRIS and Family Engagement - a Strengthening Families(TM) Approach  (webinar recording) 


Strengthening Families and Head Start

Strengthening Families and the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge

Other Tools for Early Care and Education


Implementation in Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Systems

Strengthening Families is being broadly used in states to reframe prevention efforts and engage partners who previously did not see themselves as having a role to play in child abuse and neglect prevention.

Self-Assesment and Presentation

Strengthening Families and Other Prevention Initiatives

Implementation in Home Visiting Systems


Strengthening Families is used as a framework for coordinating and aligning across different home visiting program models – and as a shared outcomes framework with the many other services and supports families need.

Self-Assesment and Presentation

Strengthening Families and Home Visiting Models

  • Connecting Strengthening Families with Home Visiting Strategies - Across the country there is expanded interest and investment in home visiting programs. Many states across the country are using Strengthening Families™ as a framework for coordinating and aligning services across home visiting program models and between home visiting programs and the many other services and supports families need. This brief articulates why and how Strengthening Families can contribute to home visiting efforts and provides examples from some of the states actively working in this way.
  • Making the Link with Evidence-Based Home Visiting Programs - 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.

Other Tools for Home Visiting

Implementation in Child Welfare Systems

A growing number of states are adopting Strengthening Families as a framework for supporting the well-being of children in child welfare by focusing on the protective factors of their caregivers.

Presentations and Podcasts

  • Strengthening Families through Child Welfare Systems (PowerPoint) – under development
  • Strengthening Families through Child Welfare Practice (PowerPoint) – under development
  • Listen to a 2-part podcast from the Child Welfare Information Gateway about the protective factors framework: Part 1 gives an overview of the protective factors framework and how it is used; Part 2 focuses on how Arlington County, Virginia has implemented the approach in its Division of Child and Family Services


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.


Other Resources for Child Welfare System Implementation

  • Strengthening Families through the Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration Projects - Five states were awarded federal Title IV-E waivers in 2013 for demonstration projects in child welfare that will use Strengthening Families approaches to improve child safety, permanency and well-being. This issue brief outlines how the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework can inform IV-E waivers, summarizes the five state projects that have just begun and provides tips for other states and jurisdictions that wish to explore applying for IV-E waivers related to Strengthening Families.
  • Practice Guide for Connecticut Caseworkers Serving Infants, Toddlers and Young Children - This practice guide developed for the Connecticut Department of Children and Families provides concrete guidance and tools that caseworkers, supervisors and decision-makers in other child welfare systems may also find useful. Other states and jurisdictions may customize this guide for their own use by contacting CSSP.
  • ACYF Literature Review - In 2012, the Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) funded the Developmental Services Group to conduct a review of the research literature for their four priority populations: infants, children and adolescents who are victims of, or are at risk of, child abuse and neglect; runaway and homeless youth; youth in or transitioning out of foster care; children and youth exposed to domestic violence; pregnant and parenting teens. 
    • CSSP has cross-walked the research literature from this review to the protective factors framework and developed an overview of the alignment between the findings.
    • The Child Welfare Information Gateway published an issue brief about ACYF’s literature review, the Centers for Disease Control’s Essentials for Childhood framework and CSSP’s protective and promotive factors framework.
  • Making the Link with Child Welfare Practice Models - 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.

Stay Informed

Early Childhood - LINC

A learning and innovation network developed by and for communities, EC-LINC's mission is to support families and improve results for young children in communities across the country with a focus on accelerating the development of effective, integrated, local early childhood systems.

Co-sponsored by the CSSP and the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County, Early Childhood-LINC works to:

  • Create a "community of communities" that fuels learning and innovation to tackle the toughest shared challenges and demonstrate results.
  • Build and disseminate knowledge about the range of community-based efforts across the country.
  • Develop opportunities for local leaders and state and federal policymakers to work together to accelerate strategies that improve results for children and families.
Liquid error: undefined method `each_with_index' for nil:NilClass
Liquid error: undefined method `each_with_index' for nil:NilClass
Site by Trilogy