A new training for child care programs in Idaho helps participants identify concrete strategies for promoting protective factors in families experiencing homelessness.

Families needing child care are as different as children themselves.  Child care programs never know which families will arrive at the door, but rest assured they all have two things in common: parents want what’s best for their children and every family has strengths.   When programs intentionally implement Strengthening Families, a Protective Factors Framework from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, they promote five specific Protective Factors that reduce stress and promote optimal outcomes in families. Although every family benefits from partnering with a program using Strengthening Families, a program infused with the framework can be an especially powerful resource for families experiencing homelessness.

Every family already has all five Protective Factors which program staff can recognize and promote through intentional everyday actions.  The Protective Factors are:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Idaho’s training for child care programs teaches key strategies to promote the Protective Factors specifically in families who are homeless.  The goal is to develop concrete strategies by studying the lived experience of a mother and her three children.  Participants at the two-hour training explore the definition, effects and rates of homelessness in Idaho, and across the nation, identify signs and symptoms of trauma they may see in children experiencing homelessness and, most importantly, create an action plan to intentionally use the Protective Factors to reduce stress in families.  The action plan draws on a list of recommended practices and is grounded in personal resolve.

The training is experiential and its success depends on capturing the wisdom in the group of participants.  Child care providers already naturally promote the Protective Factors through their everyday actions; with intentionality comes a higher level of awareness that focuses efforts to partner with families in a meaningful way. The Strengthening Families framework is central to safe, stable and nurturing child care environments.  Everyday actions that consciously promote resilience, contribute to knowledge of parenting and child development, model social and emotional competence, offer a healthy social connection and connect families to helpful resources reduce stress in families as they transition to a stable home.

For more information about Strengthening Families visit http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengtheningfamilies

To learn more about Idaho’s new training on homelessness, contact Jane Zink, IdahoSTARS Quality Rating and Improvement System Coordinator, Strengthening Families Coordinator, The IdahoSTARS Project, jzink@idahoaeyc.org

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