Alaska is such a far-flung state that it can be difficult to know what’s going on outside your own community. This is why Best Beginnings, Alaska Children’s Trust, Strengthening Families Alaska, and thread are partnering to kick off a 10-week “5 Factors” Campaign during the Week of the Young Child, April 22-28.
The “5 Factors” Campaign will highlight specific efforts in communities around Alaska that are helping build stronger families. It’s founded on the research-based principles of Strengthening Families, a national strategy to prevent child abuse and neglect. At-risk families aren’t the only ones that need support. The fact is every family needs and thrives on support and this campaign will spotlight ways everyone can help make families stronger.
According to research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, families with certain attributes – called “protective factors” – have lower rates of problem behaviors, delinquency, alcohol and drug abuse, child abuse and neglect.
The five protective factors, and nutshell explanations of them, are:
- Parental Resilience – The ability to cope with and bounce back from problems and challenges.
- Social Connections – An array of strong connections with family, friends, and neighbors; having other adults who support parents’ positive parenting.
- Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development – Good parenting is part natural and part learned. Adequate knowledge of positive parenting practices and an understanding of how children develop enables parents to better respond to their children.
- Concrete Support in Times of Need – Parents know what community resources are available to them and how to access these resources to stay healthy.
- Social and Emotional Development – The everyday ability of children to connect with other people, feel loved, and develop a sense of belonging.
Each day during the Week of the Young Child the “5 Factors” Campaign will highlight programs or activities around Alaska that exemplify one of the protective factors in action.
Week of the Young Child will also mark the beginning of a 10-week statewide radio campaign on the ways that parents, employers, and communities can support strong families. The ultimate goal is to weave protective factors into the fabric of our families, communities, and work places.
The Strengthening Families strategy has involved early childhood centers working to build protective factors around children by supporting family strengths and resiliency. In 2005, Alaska was one of seven states to be selected by the Center for the Study of Social Policy to pilot this approach. Today, Strengthening Families Alaska and Best Beginnings are working to spread the protective factors in other ways.
With training and support from Strengthening Families Alaska, 25 community early care and learning programs statewide are imbedding protective factors into their practices of caring for young children and their families.
Strengthening Families Alaska also provided grants to two Best Beginnings early childhood partnerships to actively imbed protective factors throughout their communities. They join several other Best Beginnings partnerships already utilizing protective factors as a common language.
Many families, cultures, and communities already have protective factors in their everyday lives, but know them by different names. The aim of the “5 Factors” Campaign is to foster and spread the language of protective factors beyond the early childhood community, so that everyone is speaking the same language when it comes to strengthening families.