Alert: Beginning July 1, 2018, the Department of Early Learning will become the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). After June 30, 2018, this website will no longer be updated. For the latest information on early learning, visit the DCYF website at

The Strengthening Families Washington Strategy


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There are five protective factors known to help reduce child abuse and neglect:

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

By providing parents, child care professionals and others who work with children more information about these protective factors, we can help build these protective factors in families with young children. Research shows that these protective factors build family strength and a family environment that promotes optimal child and youth development.

Here are some ways individuals and organizations can promote the protective factors in the real world:

  • Help parents set goals and solve problems (parental resilience).
  • Find a local parenting class or workshop (knowledge of parenting and of child/youth development).
  • Host a potluck or cultural celebration (social connections).
  • Call 2-1-1 to find organizations in your area that support families (concrete supports).
  • Establish a daily routine so your child knows what to expect (social and emotional development).

One way Washington supports promoting the protective factors is through Community Cafes, guided conversations hosted by parent leaders who use the World Café technique to increase community wisdom, build parent voice and facilitate action to improve lives for children. It is a process that is designed, planned and implemented by parents, working with their community partners. Learn more about the Community Cafe Collaborative.

Nationally, Strengthening Families is coordinated by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) and supported by national partner organizations including:

Additionally, DEL has a Parent Advisory Group that serves as a sounding board for decisions, ideas and questions that shape the future of DEL. Parental involvement in decision-making is the key to having policies and programs that support families’ strengths and needs. Learn more about the Parent Advisory Group.