At First Step, positive change occurs for families who use the Protective Factors Framework as a guiding pathway to improve their lives. Many young families in our area live in environments where there may be poverty, crime, substance use, domestic violence, lack of adequate housing, food insecurity, lack of transportation, and limited access to healthcare.
Helping families layer protective factors into their lives increases the health and well-being of the family unit, and mitigates or even eliminates the risk of negative outcomes in the lives of parents and children.
Protective factors are:
Parental Resilience- parents thrive when they have the tools to manage stress, make good decisions, and be strong leaders for their families
Social Connections- families thrive in inclusive environments in which they can build and maintain social connections for mutual support and a sense of belonging in the community
Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development- parents excel when they have a safe space to learn about their child’s development, discuss and explore their issues and concerns, and try out new parenting strategies
Concrete Support in Times of Need- families are healthier and happier when they have a safe place to go for assistance so that they can express their needs and find connections to services in the community. Sometimes the need is as simple as diapers and wipes or an open ear
Social and Emotional Competence of Children- children excel when parents are available to nurture their emotional development, including being present and supportive of their children as they learn to develop a positive identity in a diverse society.
When families build Protective Factors into their lives they have a greater opportunity to flourish in spite of the chaos and risks that may surround them. Protective Factors provide an opportunity for optimization of child development as well as reduced likelihood of abuse or neglect in the home.
First Step’s mission, “Promoting the healthy development of children and families on the North Olympic Peninsula by building family strengths” remains the cornerstone of the agency’s work, well into its fiftieth year of service. (50 YEARS!)