Here at Illuminate Colorado, the five protective factors are the foundation for our work.

Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, and communities that help people deal more effectively with stressful events, reducing the risk for child maltreatment.

The Five Protective Factors Are:

  • Build Parental Resilience

  • Build Social Connections

  • Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

  • Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

  • Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

When parents, family, friends, neighbors, and employers increase the five protective factors in families’ lives, that is when we strengthen families, we prevent child abuse, and build brighter childhoods. 

What does it mean to put the protective factors into practice?


We asked Illuminate Colorado staff to tell us what the protective factors look like in their work:

Sadie Rose Pace, Education Program Manager


“By talking about the scary topic of Child Sexual Abuse and working together to come up with solutions, professionals and community members build social connections and learn new skills and knowledge about child development. Growing together as a community supports us all in providing safe and healthy spaces for our kids to grow.” 

Lex Loutzenhiser, Policy Manager


“Our policy team advocates for policies that promote protective factors by providing our federal and state decision makers with information, evidence, and recommendations on how real life promotion of these factors through policy change strengthens families.”

“We also elevate the voices and perspectives of community members with lived experience in policy spaces to ensure policy change effectively promotes protective factors for Colorado families.”

Dawn Newby, Strategic Initiatives Manager


What’s exciting about the work of the CO-ECCS Project, and all the work that the Strategic Initiatives team supports, is that we are working with state agencies, community organizations, and families to transform systems together.

“Part of changing systems is that we shift the mental models upon which systems are built to value protective factors and practice seeing what families can be, instead of focusing on what they’re not.

Patsy Bruce, Child Care Manager


“The protective factors serve as a foundational starting point to build relationships and to get to know parents and caregivers. Through daily engagement; staff partners with families to increase parenting knowledge, child development, and build social and emotional knowledge. Extending these services beyond the classroom, navigation services are also offered and connects families to community support in the time of need.”  

Missy Berglund, Senior Education Program Manager


Healthy Outcomes from Positive Expereinces (HOPE) and the Protective Factors go hand in hand.  When we strengthen communities by ensuring opportunities for families to harness their exsisting protective factors, we are inherently creating greater access to positive childhood experiences. You can see the impact in the smiles on the faces of parents when they feel supported and connected. And when a parents stress is reduced, they are able to focus on creating moments of greater connection and joy with their child.

“When a parent is able to access the concrete supports they need, or talk to a friend about what they are struggling with, or even have access to information about what to expect at their child’s developments stage, you feel less isolated and better able to manage the challenges of parenting. Knowing you have a community around you that cares, that will support you, that has been there– that allows parents to breath a little easier.”

Angelica Fox, Director of Home Visitation


A visit from Family Connects to a parent of a newborn is intended to support the parent during the first three weeks, which is a time where families are very vulnerable. A Family Connects nurse home visitor provides concrete support in times of need to parents while focusing on their parenting knowledge, their child’s well being, child development, and the importance of positive interactions and expectations appropriate to their age.”

“Babies don’t come with a manual and having a home visit from Family Connects provides concrete support in times of need as the parents receive parent education and information to access existing resources and services that can support their families as a whole.”

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