The Strengthening Families Initiative (SFI) assists early childhood staff in building strategies that strengthen families, guide optimal child development, and reduce child abuse and neglect. New Jersey’s SFI uses a national and international initiative, the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework. This approach aims to develop and enhance five specific protective factors:
- Parental Resilience
- Social Connections
- Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development
- Concrete Support in Times of Need
- Social Emotional Competence in Children
This strength-based approach supports an awareness that stronger families are central to keeping children safe and helping them develop to their fullest potential. Through SFI, participating child care centers and family child care providers receive training on the protective factors listed above. Participating programs also receive a stipend to fund an individual action plan, created as a result of an SFI self-assessment. Each center establishes a small team of parents and staff to self-assess and coordinate improvements. Generally, Strengthening Families is implemented through a series of “small but significant changes” to daily practice.
Through a contract award from the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Programs for Parents (PfP) facilitates the Strengthening Families Initiative in Essex County. PfP supports 4 child care centers and 2 family child care providers by conducting trainings and meetings for provider administrators, staff and parents regarding the core principles and key strategies of Strengthening Families. Support is also provided by incentives for completing the Protective Factors Assessment; participation in county-wide parent leadership events; technical assistance for using the self-assessments to develop work-action plans; and, the awards of mini-grants.
For more information, or for inquiries about becoming a Strengthening Families participant in Essex County, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .