Protective Factors

Each protective factor is important and together they build strong and stable families

About the Protective Factors Framework

The Strengthening Families approach and protective factors framework is a research-informed, strengths-based approach that prevents child abuse and neglect by focusing on the well-being of all families and helping families identify and build on their own protective factors. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation funded the original research with the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) in 2003. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation also funded the Alliance to engage its network of state children’s trust funds to demonstrate unique and innovative ways to implement the protective factors framework.

The Strengthening Families™ Protective Factor Framework includes the following five 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 Alliance’s has created an 8-1/2 x 11-inch poster featuring the protective factors definitions on a clipboard. Available in English and Spanish, please download a printable PDF of the clipboard and post to remind you how the protective factors work together to strengthen families.

Alliance’s Nationally-Acclaimed Trainings Are
Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work

To address the need for formal and accessible national training for staff and parents interested in the protective factors framework, the Alliance created two trainings. First, the Alliance developed a a free-of-charge 14-hour online training that has served more than 50,000 learners. Based on feedback on the online training and requests from the field, the Alliance created its highly-respected, multi-day training of trainers, Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work, which is available in-person and virtually. Currently, there are more than 1,700 Alliance Certified Trainers across the country who are training staff and parents using the Alliance’s curriculum.

Early Beginnings of the Strengthening Families National Network

The Alliance formed the Early Childhood Initiative (ECI) Learning Community and by 2007 there were more than 30 state members. The ECI Learning Community met regularly, sharing learning around implementation of the framework, strategies for partnering with parents, ideas for state wide structures and engagement and many other opportunities and challenges. The Alliance supplied valued support and technical assistance to children’s trust funds, as well as arranging many opportunities for peer support, as they implemented the framework. The ECI Learning Community members also contributed to a body of training, resources and tools that are now available through the Alliance. They also formed the core group of what is now the Strengthening Families National Network.

The Alliance and its members created many other publications, videos and other tools for those interested in learning more about the protective factors and those interested in helping families grow stronger. Scroll down to Resources to view those materials.

Training of Trainers

Training of Trainers: Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work

October 9-12, 2023

11:00 AM – 3:30 PM ET

“So many ‘aha’ moments, I wanted to absorb every story you told, examples you gave and lessons learned. Unbelievable training from beginning to end. Thank you for your time, passion and energy.”

– Training of Trainers Participant

Interested in Holding a Training of Trainers?

To receive basic information about what is involved in holding a Training of Trainers, complete a short form HERE. Someone from the Alliance will contact you after you submit the form.

What Others Are Saying About the Training of Trainers

Alliance Training Equips New Jersey Trainers to Advance a Protective Factors Approach

Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Christine Beyer, shares about how their group of over 95 Alliance Certified Trainers is using the Alliance’s training to enhance and advance a protective factors approach, which requires them to rethink the look of a modern child protection system.

Commissioner Beyer says, “The Framework helps us re-envision how to heal families as a unit, how to build and buttress relationships before they break down and how to provide family-driven programs and services that link to their goals and reduce the risk factors for abuse.”

Other Video Links

Online Training

The Children’s Trust Fund Alliance’s Bringing the Protective Factors to Life in Your Work online training is for anyone who works with children and families, including parents, practitioners and supervisors. Available at ProSolutions Training, the curriculum supports the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework, and includes materials on partnering with parents and strategies to strengthen families.

There are seven English courses and one Spanish course available at ProSolutions Training, which offers two versions of each course:

  1. One for FREE with a certificate of completion
  2. One for a small fee with CEUs and in most states, early childhood training credit

The curriculum consists of seven courses, each designed to be about 2 hours in length. The introductory course provides an overview, followed by each of the five protective factors – Parental Resilience, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Concrete Support, Social and Emotional Competence of Children – and ends with a review and reflection course that helps participants move from knowledge to action. The introductory course, which is also available in Spanish, can serve as a brief, stand-alone Strengthening Families™ 101 training.

Visit ProSolutions Training

If you need to contact ProSolutions Training for assistance, the Client Relations team can be reached at 1-800-939-9694 or via email at

Outline of Online Curriculum

Introduction/Strengthening Families™ 101

  • Background information on the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors approach
  • Introduction of the protective factors framework
  • Strength-based work with families
  • Introduction of the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework Self-Assessment
  • Appropriate as a stand-alone orientation to the framework

The Five Protective Factors Courses

  • Purpose and learning objectives for each course
  • Definition and explanation of the protective factor
  • Definition and explanation of program strategy (or strategies) and everyday actions
  • Quizzes, activities and reflective questions
  • Real-life parent stories, documenting the power of building protective factors
  • Engaging mix of written text, video and audio examples
  • Individualized Action Plan (IAP) work
  • A direct link in the Websites and Resources section to the Strengthening Families™ Self-Assessment for that protective factor

Moving from Knowledge to Action

  • Recap of the curriculum, using the logic model as a visual summary
  • Introduction to the systems concepts of the Strengthening Families™ “Core Functions” and their ability to impact change at a systems level
  • Review of the user’s portfolio and Individualized Action Plan (IAP)
  • Add user reflections and update the IAP to reflect progress made while completing the curriculum
Online Training Before 2018

If you took the online training before November 2018 and need to access a certificate, contact Trish Hallmark at  Please note that course completion certificates from the original Alliance online training site are no longer available, and you will need to retake the course on the ProSolutions Training site.

Spanish Introductory Course Available Online!

The Alliance’s Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life In Your Work: Introduction and Overview course is now available online in Spanish! This course serves as a brief, stand-alone Strengthening Families™ 101 training. Check it out at ProSolutions Training where there are two options available:

  1. One for FREE with a certificate of completion
  2. One for a small fee with CEUs and in most states, early childhood training credit

Visit ProSolutions Training, and click on the Español button in the upper right hand corner.


Parent need2know Resources

The Alliance’s National Parent Partnership Council (ANPPC) uses the Protective Factors Framework as a foundation for their national parent-to-parent work. Many of the tools in the need2know series share parents’ perspectives about the power and impact that building protective factors has made in their family and community.

The need2know resources that specifically address protective factors include:

  • Concrete Examples of Everyday Actions to Build Protective Factors: These one-page infographics (Parental Resilience, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Social Connections, Concrete Support in Times of Need and Social and Emotional Competence of Children) are available in English and Spanish. The back of each of the infographics shows how the protective factor fits within the framework – how they all work together to help make families strong! Also, featured on the flipside is how parent groups across the country have defined the protective factor.
  • Images to Share on Social Media: The ANPPC has created social media images to promote the need2know infographics.

To access these and other emerging parent-to-parent resources to support families to build protective factors, visit the ANPPC resources section HERE.

Early Childhood Initiative Resources and Tools

When the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) introduced the Strengthening Families ™ Protective Factors Framework in 2003, then the Alliance began to engage its network of children’s trust and prevention funds to consider implementing this unique approach in all of their work. Both bodies of work – the research and the implementation through children’s trust and prevention funds and their early childhood partners – was funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

It was soon discovered that implementation of a strengths-based approach, focused on building protective factors, could look very different from one community to another. The Alliance and all of the participants in the Early Childhood Initiative learned from each other. In partnership with the Alliance, they developed many resources to share about this work.

These resources share concrete examples across the socio-ecological model of ways in which the Protective Factors framework is springing to life across the nation. These actions demonstrate unique ways that states are:

  • Strategically aligning and coordinating early learning and development across state systems,
  • Promoting school readiness,
  • Involving and supporting parents as decision-makers and leaders at all levels, and
  • Helping to strengthen families to prevent child maltreatment

Click on a state below to see the resources developed in that state.