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Strengthening Families 101

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  • 1. Strengthening Families 101 2010 C E N T E R F O R T H E S T U D Y O F S O C I A L P O L I C Y
  • 2. strengthening families began as a new approach to child abuse prevention that: is systematic is national reaches large numbers of children has impact long before abuse or neglect occurs promotes optimal development
  • 3. What we know about child maltreatment in the United States • Abuse and neglect of children occurs across all ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious groups. • There is no single, identifiable cause of child maltreatment; it occurs as a result of an interaction of multiple forces impacting the family. Thomas, D., Leicht, C., Hughes, C., Madigan, A., & Dowell, K. (2003). Emerging practices in the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: Children’s Bureau’s Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.
  • 4. the scope of child maltreatment in the United States In 2006, • Children ages birth to 1 year had the highest rates of child maltreatment; 84% of victims were less than one week old • Children ages 1-3 had the 2nd highest rate of victimization • 905,000 children were victims of maltreatment; the overwhelming majority experience it in the form of neglect • 1,530 children died from abuse and neglect Morbidity Mortality and Weekly Report, April 4, 2008. www.cdc.gov/injury
  • 5. impact of child maltreatment • Immediate impact on the young victim includes physical injury, sensory impairment, emotional trauma, and death. • Long-term impact on the victim includes impairment of brain circuitry, low threshold for stress, damage to the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory, intellectual and social deficiencies, increased risk for depression, delinquency, and violent behavior. • Reverberating impact across social systems including medical, mental health, law enforcement, judicial system, social services, and other helping agencies as they respond to CAN and provide support to the victim.
  • 6. adverse childhood experience (ACE) study An examination of the relationship between adult health status (diabetes, heart disease, depression and others) child maltreatment, and family dysfunction Categories of ACEs: • emotional abuse • physical abuse • sexual abuse • emotional neglect • physical neglect • household substance abuse • household mental illness • incarcerated household member • mother treated violently • parental separation or divorce
  • 7. child abuse prevention efforts Children under 5 – 20.6 million 4.2 million children in families below poverty line ($19,806 for 4)… 336,000 below 50% of poverty…1,500,000 homeless Child Abuse Prevention Programs = 2 million children, including parent education and training, self – help groups and family resource centers Home visiting – 550,000 children
  • 8. child abuse prevention strategies • Target families with risk factors such as low income, race, age of parents • Provide specialized interventions by trained workers, such as home visiting and parent education to targeted families • Focus on reducing risk factors
  • 9. The Strengthening Families Approach • Focus on strengthening ALL families • Go where families already are: start with trusted organizations with close neighborhood and cultural ties to families • Measure results in growth of protective factors/family strengths
  • 10. significant beginnings • National organizations and their leaders Children’s Defense Fund, NAEYC, Zero to Three, Children’s Trust Funds, Family Support America, and others • Recognized researchers in disparities, cultural differences, early childhood, child abuse prevention • Respected practitioners with expertise in working with diverse cultural groups
  • 11. concerns about targeting • May increases racial disparities, such as children in foster care • Does not register vast differences within cultural and racial groups • Disrespects the many strengths families have and can build on • Labels families and their children unfairly
  • 12. the original (simple?) ideas: Start with family strengths and link them to reductions in child abuse and increases in child outcomes. Find out if universally available places like early childhood programs can help families and prevent child abuse. Influence national organizations, states and federal systems to adopt the approach. Create greater safety and optimal development for millions of children and less stigma and disrespect for families.
  • 13. just the facts… What does the research tell us about what is RIGHT with families? What are the characteristics that promote children’s healthy development – and are linked directly to a reduction in child abuse and neglect?
  • 14. the protective factors framework parental resilience social connections knowledge of parenting and child development concrete support in times of need social and emotional competence
  • 15. going where the children are Early care and education programs were the original target for Strengthening Families. daily contact with parents and children unique, intimate relationships with parents approach of positive encouragement and education for all families+ an early warning and response system to the first signs of trouble
  • 16. since then, strengthening families has been used in a wide variety of disciplines that help young children and their families, from home visiting to child welfare.
  • 17. what strategies do quality programs use to help families as well as children? protective factors CAN prevention and optimal development how can states and national systems support, disseminate and sustain these strategies and the Protective Factors in ECE and other systems?
  • 18. seeking excellent examples – exemplary programs study Rural, urban, suburban Small/large; standalone/multisite Large-budget/small budget ALL serving low-income families ALL already high-quality programs by other standards
  • 19. excellent early childhood programs (and many other child- and family- serving programs) are already building protective factors daily, but often do not recognize their impact on families
  • 20. small but significant changes in program practice can produce huge results in preventing child abuse and neglect for the youngest children
  • 21. An important clue Arthur Reynolds, University of Wisconsin, Chicago Parent Child Centers Longitudinal study of children and families in a program with similar elements to those of programs identified by CSSP Results: 52% reduction in substantiated cases of abuse and neglect by age 17
  • 22. organizational partners and funders Finance Project Midwest Learning Center for Family Support National Black Child Development Institute National Registry Alliance Parents as Teachers Parent Services Project doris duke charitable foundation casey family programs annie e. casey foundation a. L. Mailman family foundation arthur m. blank family foundation
  • 23. partners at the federal level: Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (Children’s Bureau, ACYF, ACF, HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Child Care Bureau Maternal and Child Health Bureau Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Violence Prevention
  • 24. strengthening families has inspired an approach to work with children and families that is: universally available – not targeted by risk focused on development and growth – not only on identified problems delivered through new, powerful partners not typically identified as CAN prevention or family support agents.
  • 25. what contributes to a “successful” family? Dimensions Description Basic needs Economic security, housing, health care, other necessary resources are in place Internal resources Education, life experience, skills plus connections to extended family, neighbors, co-workers and friends Positive family climate Nurturing parenting styles, effective communication and warm interactions among family members Self confidence Sense of control over choices, being valued and able to make a difference; faith that all will be well
  • 26. protective factors are: Characteristics that decrease the likelihood of a person becoming a victim or perpetrator of abuse or neglect because it provides a buffer against risk (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Conditions or attributes in individuals, families, and communities that increase well-being Buffers that help parents find resources, supports and strategies to function effectively, even under stress
  • 27. Love is not enough - Illinois Parental Resilience = Be strong and flexible Social Connections = Parents need friends Knowledge of Parenting = Being a great parent is part natural and part learned Concrete Support = We all need help sometimes Social and emotional development for children = Help your children communicate and give them the love and respect they need
  • 28. Community Cafes - Washington Parental Resilience = Courage Social Connections = Community Knowledge of Parenting = Health Concrete Support = Freedom Children’s Social and Emotional Development = Compassion
  • 29. parental resilience
  • 30. parental resilience Psychological health. Parents feel supported and able to solve problems; can develop trusting relationships with others and are able to reach out for help Parents who did not have positive child- hood experiences or who are in troubling circumstances need extra support and trusting relationships
  • 31. social connections
  • 32. social connections Relationships with extended family, friends, co-workers, other parents with children similar ages Community norms are developed through social connections Mutual assistance networks: child care, emotional support, concrete help
  • 33. knowledge of parenting and child development
  • 34. knowledge of parenting and child development Basic information about how children develop Basic techniques of developmentally appropriate discipline Alternatives to parenting behaviors experienced of a child Help with challenging behaviors
  • 35. concrete supports in times of need
  • 36. concrete supports in times of need Response to a crisis – food, clothing, shelter Assistance with daily needs, job opportunities, transportation, education Services for parents in crisis: mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse Specialized services for children
  • 37. social and emotional competence
  • 38. social and emotional competence Normal child development (like using language to express needs and feelings) creates positive parent- child reactions Challenging behaviors, traumatic experiences, or development that is not on track require extra adult attention A surprise: what learning in the classroom does back at home
  • 39. levers for change parent partnerships professional development integration into policies and systems
  • 40. parent partnerships ensure that prevention strategies are responsive to all kinds of families, all kinds of family needs and choices work best when parents are involved consistently in meaningful ways, as decision- making partners at all levels help create consumer support for Strengthening Families
  • 41. professional development is about infusing Strengthening Families concepts into trainings that already exist across systems builds a workforce with common knowledge, language, and goals supports quality-improvement across systems that help children and their families needs to be offered at all levels (providers to administrators) and accessible to people with varying levels of competency
  • 42. policies and systems is about integrating Strengthening Families into regulations and procedures that govern everyday work in child- and family-serving systems and their agencies focuses on building Protective Factors, promoting optimal child development, and preventing maltreatment facilitates alignment, coordination, and collaboration across disciplines creates a positive context for shifting attitudes and practice toward more effective family engagement and better outcomes
  • 43. Center for the Study of Social Policy 1575 Eye Street NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005 (202) 371-1575 www.cssp.org www.strengtheningfamilies.net Judy Langford, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy judy.langford@cssp.org