Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities, or the larger society that, when present, mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. Protective factors help parents to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Resources include State and local examples.
Research has shown that protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect:
- The protective factors framework
- Nurturing and attachment
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development
- Parental resilience
- Social connections
- Concrete supports for parents
- Social and emotional competence of children
Alliance for Early Success
Alliance for Early Success (formerly Birth to Five) promotes policy ideas that support families in their parenting role and ensure positive early childhood development for at-risk children and their families. Website offers information on State-by-State early childhood legislation and policies, links to news and research, and provides an online discussion forum.
Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work–A Resource for Action
National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds (2012)
Offers an interactive online training on the protective factors for practitioners working with parents. Promising strategies to strengthen families are also included.
Differences in Abuse and Related Risk and Protective Factors by Runaway Status for Adolescents Seen at a U.S. Child Advocacy Center (PDF - 167 KB)
Edinburgh, Harpin, Garcia, & Saewyc (2014)
International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience,1(1)
Offers a study that examined the abuse prevalence and characteristics, and risk and protective factors, among both runaway and non-runaway adolescents evaluated at a Child Advocacy Center in Minnesota to assess runaways for potential sexual assault or sexual exploitation. Includes implications for screening for protective factors and trauma responses of all adolescents.
Family Strengthening Policy Center
National Human Services Assembly
Offers policy briefs, news, and resources on neighborhood-based, family-centered practices and programs that contribute to family economic and social empowerment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014)
Provides information on protective factors that can increase an individual’s ability to avoid risk for adverse health and educational outcomes and promotes social and emotional competence for youth to be successful in the future.
Protective Factors for the Perpetration of Youth Violence
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Summarizes individual, family, social, and community risk factors in the perpetuation of youth violence, and identifies preliminary research on individual and social protective factors that can buffer young people from the risks of becoming violent. The webpage also lists additional resources on how to decrease the perpetration of youth violence.
Strengthening Families: Around the Nation
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Provides information on various stakeholders from the Federal level down to community projects that support the strengthening families strategy.
What Makes Your Family Strong? Meet the Protective Factors!
Great Start Collaborative (2013)
Presents a media campaign that consists of seven posters, a protective factors guide, and a new website in an effort to localize the messaging of the Strengthening Families Framework.
Colorado's Strong Start Study: Helping Young Families Affected by Substance use Build Protective Factors to Prevent Maltreatment [Presentation Slides] (PDF - 557 KB)
UCEDD TA Institute & JFK Partners (2013)
Discusses the effectiveness of the Strong Start Wraparound program designed to help young Colorado families affected by substance use build protective factors to prevent child abuse and neglect. Includes the benefits of early intervention with young families in early recovery and implications for early intervention policy and practice.