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August 2016

Leadership Team Update
The Strengthening Families Leadership Team Meeting was held on May 18, 2016. A brief report follows:

The meeting began with “Reports from the Ground,” a recurring segment which focuses on the implementation of Strengthening Families Protective Factors (SFPF) at the local level, featuring Brenda Kinsler from Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS).

When DHS embarked on a transformation of their child welfare services in Philadelphia, they chose the Strengthening Families approach as a guiding framework to inform how they would improve relationship with families. They sought to embed the protective factors into all services and aspects provided by DHS and through the decentralized Community Umbrella Agencies (CUAs). The SFPF framework informs the training requirements of staff, how success is evaluated, and how services such as aftercare, permanency and community engagement are delivered. Each CUA has dedicated Strengthening Families coordinators that work closely with the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), who developed the Strengthening Families approach, to ensure that services are in line with the approach. These coordinators also provide training to staff and conduct Parent Cafes in the community that provide opportunities for parents to learn about and discuss the protective factors.

The Strengthening Families Leadership Team has three subcommittees: Evaluation and Planning, Marketing, and Professional Development. All leadership team members are welcome and encouraged to join a subcommittee if their work schedule and time permits. The Evaluation and Planning Committee provided an update on the status of the proposed evaluation, with the estimated date of the stakeholder’s survey in November 2016. The Marketing committee discussed the newsletter as well as a new parent brochure from CSSP brochure which has been updated with Pennsylvania branding and is available on the website. The brochure is a great way to share the protective factors with parents. The Professional Development committee did not meet last quarter but a subgroup met to discuss the implementation of the Be Strong Families Parent Cafés. Be Strong Families will work with PA to train six instructor/technical assistance people from different programs related to OCDEL to teach locally based teams how to conduct the Be Strong Parent Café Model. The three events leading to certification are June; September and January with up to 18 local teams participating. The remainder of the meeting was used to hold a Revisioning Keystone STARS Town Hall Meeting led by Suzann Morris from PaTTAN. Team members had the opportunity to learn more about the STARS revisioning process and provide feedback on changes to the STARS system.

It was requested that leadership team members like the Facebook page if they had not yet done so.

The second annual Philadelphia Strengthening Families Summit will be held on August 3, 2016.

The next meeting is scheduled for August 17, 2016 at the Center for Schools and Communities


Policy Spotlight: Learn More about the National Family Support Network
Founded in 2011, the National Family Support Network (NFSN) is a membership-based organization comprised of statewide networks of two or more family support and strengthening programs, such as Family Resource Centers, working together within a collective impact framework to ensure coordinated quality support for families. As the United States’ coordinating body for family strengthening and support networks, the NFSN currently has 16 member networks, comprised of more than 2,000 family support and strengthening organizations, representing the great geographical and demographic diversity of the nation.

The mission of the NFSN is to connect statewide networks across the United States to promote quality practice, peer learning, mutual support and effective policies and systems that support positive outcomes for children, families and communities.

A key area of work for the NFSN is promoting family support best practice and evaluation through the national implementation of the Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support. These standards are the first and only standards in the country to integrate and operationalize the Principles of Family Support Practice with the Strengthening Families framework and its research-based evidence-informed 5 protective factors. To date, more than 2,700 people in nine states and the District of Columbia have successfully completed the standards certification training.

In May of 2016, the NFSN held the first National Family Support Network Forum in Washington, D.C. This unique event, hosted by the NFSN and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Social Policy – Strengthening Families and the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, included more than 100 key stakeholders from the federal government, state government, philanthropy, children’s trust and prevention funds, state family support networks and national nonprofit networks. Some of the featured speakers include Administration on Children, Youth, and Families Commissioner Rafael Lopez and Judy Langford of the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

The forum featured an overview and exploration of the impact of statewide FSSN, and a presentation of key data from a national scan of FSSN and their workforce funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. With this information and data for context, participants reviewed and further developed a series of draft strategic recommendations focusing attention on the need to support and strengthen families in every state through supporting, strengthening and establishing FSSN.

For more information, go to National Family Support Network.


Practice Spotlight: Protective Factors Action Sheets
The Center for the Study of Social Policy has recently developed Protective Factors Action Sheets that include a research brief about each protective factor and action sheet for providers that includes what to look for, questions to ask and activities to do with parents related to each protective factor. Denise H. Continenza, a Bringing the Protective Factors to Life in Your Work certified instructor, shares below how she incorporates this resource into a series of courses.

I have found this set of tools to be very helpful in wrapping up a workshop and opening the next. These easy-to-read handouts summarize what was covered in the session and encourage some excellent discussion topics. Prior to distributing to participants at the end of each session, I have participants share what they believe their role is in fostering the particular protective factor in families. I also have them think of what they might look for or talk about with families in order to assess the strength of this factor. I then give each person a copy of the action sheet, and we compare responses given with the information on the sheet. I also remind the participants that this serves as a quick reference for them when they want to refresh their memory about the protective factor. Finally, I use the “Activities to do with parents” section as a home assignment for the next session. This helps people to actually see how they are building protective factors in their everyday work with families.

When the group reconvenes for the next workshop, we open with a review of the last protective factor that was addressed. Using the action sheet, we do a quick review of what the factor is, how it relates to the outcomes and what it looks like when it is robust in families. Participants are encouraged to share the assignment of helping a family to develop that protective factor. Sometimes I provide prizes for people who did their homework.

Prior to using the action sheets, I found that many participants did not see the connection between current, everyday practices and their impacts on strengthening protective factors in families. They wanted more “skills”. Using the action sheets has been very helpful in making the connection from theory to practice.


Event Spotlight: Family Engagement Conference
Family Engagement Conference: Supporting Strong Partnerships for Children’s School Readiness and Achievement
October 5, 2016; PaTTAN, Harrisburg, Pa.
October 6, 2016; Bayfront Conference Center, Erie, Pa.

Dr. Maria Paredes, WestEd will be the keynote speaker during OCDEL’s annual Family Engagement Conference, and will highlight family and community engagement based on the Academic Parent-Teacher Teams Model. This one day, free conference targets P3 stakeholders including family leaders, early learning and elementary administrators and educators, home visitors, therapist, social workers, and family support specialist. This is an opportunity to promote and disseminate information and resources for family engagement, as well as, share and highlight successful strategies.


Pennsylvania’s Mission:
The Strengthening Families Leadership Team works to sustain and weave the Five Protective Factors, which are social and emotional competence of children, knowledge of parenting and child development, social connections, concrete support in times of need and parental resilience, into policies, program and practice across child and family service systems.

Relationships • Strong Families • Respect



Strengthening Families Pennsylvania | www.pa-strengthening-families.org | PA-StrengtheningFamilies@csc.csiu.org | (717) 763-1661
275 Grandview Ave, Suite 200 | Camp Hill, PA 17011

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