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Factors Framework-Military: Supporting Home Visitors Working With Military Families and Their Young Children

For military-connected families, the values of personal strength and problem solving are pretty universal. To be seen as having difficulty handling personal and family issues is to be seen as being weak. Perhaps that is why having a strength-based approach in working with military families, as well as all families, is so important.

by Julia Yeary, Director of Training and Resources, Military Family Projects, ZERO TO THREE and Dorinda Williams, Director, Military Family Projects, ZERO TO THREE

Sergeant Hunter was referred to New Parent Support Program (NPSP) by the Sergeant Major, his supervisor. He was a new father, having just returned to his 2-month-old baby boy after a 7-month deployment overseas. This was a pretty common occurrence for NPSP, the Department of Defense home visiting program for families with young children, but it was the first for SGT Hunter. Lissa, the home visitor assigned to the Hunter family, could tell he was nervous as he let her into his home. His wife, Vanessa, was sitting in the living room holding their infant, Bradley, in her arms. SGT Hunter shared, “I don’t know why Sergeant major wanted me to see you. We’re fine. I don’t know what the issue is. We don’t have problems.”

For military-connected families, the values of personal strength and problem solving are pretty universal. To be seen as having difficulty handling personal and family issues is to be seen as being weak. Perhaps that is why having a strength-based approach in working with military families, as well as all families, is so important. Through comprehensive research, the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) identified five Protective Factors™ to prevent child maltreatment and promote family resilience: (a.) parental resilience, (b.) social connections, (c.) knowledge of parenting and child development, (d.) concrete support in times of need, and (e.) social and emotional competence of children. The Protective Factors Framework™ is at the core of the Strengthening Families® initiative, a two-generational approach to reducing child maltreatment while fostering family well-being (Harper Browne, 2014).

Recognizing the power of this approach, the Department of Defense (DoD) has committed to incorporating the protective factors into its military-wide home visitation program, NPSP. As part of this effort, DoD has engaged the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and ZERO TO THREE’s Military Family Projects to develop a prevention/intervention curriculum that is trauma-informed, is tailored to the unique role and setting of NPSP home visitors, reflects the military culture and context, and is undergirded by a military adapted and applied Strengthening Families’ Protective Factors Framework. This Protective Factors Framework—Military curriculum will be made available to NPSP home visitors as part of a larger training platform developed for DoD’s Family Advocacy Program staff, composed of synchronous trainings, problem-based learning (PBL), fact sheets, and infographics—all focused on promoting intergenerational resilience through the use of promotive and protective factors. By investing in the power of protective factors, DoD is serving as a model of excellence for promoting strengths-based practices that, ultimately, foster intergenerational resilience.

Making use of the Protective Factors Framework can benefit all families. How do you identify and foster protective factors in the families you serve? How might your community incorporate the Protective Factors Framework into its systems of care?

Reference

Harper Browne, C. (2014). The Strengthening Families approach and Protective Factors Framework: Branching out and reaching deeper. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of Social Policy.

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