Prevention of Child Maltreatment

We all share a responsibility to ensure that children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. All families and children in every community need support at some point in their lives. Protective factors are conditions or attributes in individuals, families, communities or the larger society that help people deal more effectively with stressful events and mitigate or eliminate risk in families and communities.


Protective factors help buffer from the negative consequences of exposure to risks by either reducing the impact of the risk or changing the way a person responds to the risk. Consequently, enhancing protective factors can reduce the likelihood of problem behaviors arising.

Developed by the Center for the Study of Social Policy, Strengthening Families™ is a research-informed approach to:

  • increase family strengths,
  • enhance child development and
  • reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Strengthening Families™

Child Maltreatment is a problem with a solution. Far too many people, parents and professionals alike, don’t know how to prevent child abuse. We all have a responsibility to increase protective factors in families’ lives in order for children to reach their full potential.   

Anne Auld

Deputy Director, Illuminate Colorado

Return on Investment

Investing in proven strategies to prevent child maltreatment makes good economic sense. According to a recent CDC study, The Economic Burden of Child Maltreatment in the United States and Implications for Prevention,  the total lifetime estimated financial costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment is approximately $124 billion. 

Protective Factors Build Brighter Childhoods

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

Proven to Prevent Child Maltreatment

Research has shown the five Protective Factors have the power to prevent and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. 

Build Parental Resilience

Resilience is built by learning healthy coping skills and strategies to manage stress and function well when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma.​ 


Right now, stress is HIGH. You’ve likely felt a little short-temper, yelled or not been your best-self at moments. Everyone needs to practice self-care right now, especially parents. Take care of yourself, to take care of your kids. 


Support Families

  • Share a mindfulness or stress management tip
  • Encourage parents to give themselves permission to not be perfect

Build Social Connections

Positive relationships that provide emotional, informational, instrumental and spiritual support keep families strong. 


Having a network of friends and family helps us feel secure, confident and empowered. Accept help from others and look for opportunities to give back. 


Support Families

  • Reach out to others, talk about what is going on in your life. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
  • Focus on nurturing relationships where you feel respected and appreciated.
  • Look for opportunities to build social connections among parents.

Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Understanding child development and parenting strategies that support physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development is critical to helping children reach their full potential.  


There is no perfect parent, but knowing what to expect does make the job easier. Discover what to expect as your child grows. Try new skills and tips to help your child progress and thrive throughout your journey through parenthood. 


Support Families

  • Respond in a positive way when children misbehave.
  • Learn about child development and stages of life we all go through beginning before we are born. 

Build Concrete Support in Times of Need

When families are connected and have access to concrete supports in their community that help minimize stress caused by challenges, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. ​  


Some problems are too big to solve alone. Knowing where to get support in your community can make life easier. Reach out and ask for support when needed. No one can parent alone, we all need support in some way.


Support Families

  • Know what financial support, programs and services are available in your community and if it meets the challenges ahead.
  • Make a plan for what programs you might need if you were faced with unemployment or a severe illness. 
  • Share your story with others about programs and resources that have helped you and your family.

Build Social and Emotional Competence of Children

Family and child interactions help children build the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate their emotions and establish and maintain relationships well into adulthood. 


Help children develop skills so they can manage their emotions and build healthy relationships with their peers and adults. 


Support Families

  • Respond warmly and consistently to children.
  • Allow children to express their emotions.
  • Model how to be kind and interact positively with others.
  • Investing in practices, policies and services that promote children’s healthy development.

Help Strengthen Families & Communities

We all share a responsibility to ensure that children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 


Learn About Our Work

Our children are our future employees, leaders and neighbors. No matter where they live, children need high-quality experiences and loving relationships to support healthy development.

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