Protective Factors in Action

Return to the 5 Factors CampaignMonday: Parental Resilience
Tuesday: Social & Emotional Competence of Children
Wednesday: Concrete Support in Times of Need
Thursday: Knowledge of Parenting & Child Development
Friday: Social Connections


Parental resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family’s life.

Protective Factor: Parental resilience
Community: Kodiak
Contact: Katrina Stewart,
thread (Child Care Resource and Referral Agency)

Before she had her own children, Kristina thought of herself as a very patient person, even-keeled, and calm. Not long after she had her kids, she realized the 24-7 demands of parenting, combined with sleep deprivation and major life changes wore her down pretty quickly.

Even the smallest irritation could challenge her patience. She found herself raising her voice or slamming doors in frustration. One of the most valuable things she has learned as a parent is the power and importance of saying “I’m sorry” when she’s in the wrong. When Kristina loses her cool, she apologizes to her kids. By doing so, she demonstrates the importance of bouncing back from challenges and frustrations. She wants them to know that even adults make mistakes and that all people deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.


Social and emotional competence refers to a child’s ability to interact positively with others, self-regulate behavior, and effectively communicate feelings. Social and emotional competence impacts a child’s relationships with family, other adults, and peers.

Protective Factor: Social and emotional competence
Community: Homer
Bonnie Betley,
Little Bopper Dance Group, Families First

At the Little Boppers Dance Group in Homer, 3-year-old Sabre clung to her dad’s leg. The first couple of months, she would hardly speak or interact at all. But teacher Natalie was patient. She worked with Sabre every week, always welcoming and inclusive, but leaving Sabre whatever space she needed. After a couple of months, Sabre began to open up, bit by bit. Now, Sabre even sings and dances at home on her own, and encourages other kids to join her when the mood strikes.

In communities all over Alaska, people are working together to support the healthy social and emotional development of their children. These early experiences help children develop the skills they will need to engage and navigate social and work environments throughout their lives.


Concrete support in times of need refers to both basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, and health care – and support in a crisis.

Protective Factor: Concrete Support in Times of Need
Community: Ketchikan
Contact: Laurie Thomas,
Ketchikan Early Childhood Coalition

Sally and Jim didn’t know where to turn. The job they came for last month fell through. They have been staying with an acquaintance they met on the ferry and trying to find a place to live with their two young children. They could easily be homeless in a month.

At the local library one day, they learned about the Ketchikan Community Resource Guide. It helped them find public housing, child care assistance, and a quality child care center. The Resource Guide was a treasure provided by the Ketchikan Early Childhood Coalition – a concrete resource that told Sally and Jim what resources were available and how to tap them. Concrete resources in times of need are one of the five factors that strengthen families.


Knowledge of parenting and child development – Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children’s behavior at every age help parents see their children in a positive light and promote their healthy development.

Protective Factor: Knowledge of parenting and child development
Community: Juneau
Demonstration: Jesse Higdon,
Doula with Strength in Families, Juneau

Positive parenting is both instinct and learning. Many parents don’t realize how babies develop and communicate, right from birth. Samantha, a single 18-year-old mother, waited for her two-day-old newborn son to cry before feeding him. She didn’t realize that when he mouthed his fist, it was his way of communicating hunger. A visiting doula advised Samantha about how to “read” her baby’s clues. By understanding that her baby was communicating, it helped Samantha see him as an intelligent being rather than just a needy infant.

Because she can now read his signs, she feels competent as a mom. She helped her baby feel safe emotionally safe and build trust with her by responding constructively and lovingly to his signs and cries.


Social Connections – Friends, family members, neighbors and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice, and give concrete assistance to parents. Networks of support are essential to parents and offer people opportunities to give back, an important part of self-esteem as well as a benefit for the community.

Protective Factor: Social connections
Community: Anchorage
Contact: Larry Johns,
Campfire After-School Program

Developing strong social connections can be a challenge, especially for military families far from home. Organized family nights can help a lot. In Anchorage, the Campfire After-School Program began holding monthly family events at different times to include as many families as possible.

One dad was so thrilled with family night, he asked if they could organize another one before his deployment in a few weeks. The program staff, children, and parents worked together to make it happen. The event itself and the planning process brought parents closer together and paved the way for new social connections that every family needs. With Alaska’s strong military presence, it’s especially important to have strong social connections when mom or dad is serving.

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