Strong families are the backbone of successful communities. When communities create an environment of support, the effects are systemic and far-reaching. But how can we truly move the needle forward on the prevention of child abuse and neglect?
All children deserve to grow up in a stable and loving environment. Children should have nurturing caregivers who set them on a healthy path. When we provide caregivers opportunities to learn, become involved, and make positive decisions, we are strengthening their skills as parents and problem-solvers. A strengths-based approach allows families dealing with stress to be more resourceful, thus providing them specific tools to better handle challenges down the road.
The Strengthening Families Framework is a research-informed approach to increase family strengths, enhance child development, and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. It is based on engaging families and communities in building five key Protective Factors:
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Knowledge of parenting and child development
- Concrete support in times of need
- Social and emotional competence of children
The Utah Family Strengthening Network (UFSN) was created a decade ago to bring this work to our state. Because a handful of passionate Utahns understood the importance of focusing on the positives when working with families, we have made great strides in preventing abuse and neglect. But there is still much work to be done, and we need all of you! As one parent said after working with strength-based experts: “Sometimes I feel quite alone and I’m not sure which way to turn. It was helpful to be given local options for the service I needed. The whole experience was much less overwhelming than in the past when I’ve tried finding help on my own. Thank you for caring and helping me!” You can hear more from families who have experienced this approach here.
Supported Families = Strong Communities
If we focus on each family’s strengths while doing what we can to help with their challenges, we empower them to keep working and improving. These efforts make our communities stronger and make us more likely to lead with empathy and compassion. What a powerful legacy!
If you’d like to learn more about the Utah Family Strengthening Network’s trainings, visit the network’s page at: https://pcautah.org/UFSN/.