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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 18, No. 2
May 2013

Supporting Resource Families Using the Strengthening Families Approach

Strengthening Families' Protective Factors* Ways to Help
Resource Families
Parental Resilience

Resilience is the process of managing stress and functioning well even when faced with challenges, adversity and trauma. By managing stressors, parents feel better and can provide more nurturing attention to their child, which enables their child to form a secure emotional attachment.

  • Make yourself accessible to families. Listen to and encourage them.
  • Ensure families have adequate access to respite (formal or informal).
  • Help families assess their mental health. Ensure that they can access counseling or other mental health services to cope with stress and changes in their lives when they have a need.
  • Acknowledge the challenges families face. Address their concerns that sharing information about their difficulties will jeopardize their standing with the child-placing agency.
Social Connections

Friends, family members, neighbors, and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice and give concrete assistance to parents. Parents need people who care about them and their children, who are good listeners, who they can turn to for well-informed advice, and who they can call on for help in solving problems.

  • Encourage families to connect with neighbors, family, and community members for emotional support, concrete assistance, and parenting advice.
  • Share information about the North Carolina Foster and Adoptive Parent Association (, which offers peer support.
  • Connect resource parents to mentors.
Concrete Support in Times of Need

All parents need help sometimes--help with the day-to-day care of children, help figuring out how to soothe a colicky baby, help getting to the emergency room when an accident happens, help in managing their tempers when they're fatigued or upset. When parents are faced with very trying conditions such as losing a job, home foreclosure, or the effects of trauma, they need access to concrete support and services that address their needs and help reduce the stress caused by very difficult challenges and adversity.

  • Help families find or apply for additional resources when dealing with financial setbacks or unemployment in current placements.
  • Make in-home crisis services available to resource parents struggling to care for a child with a high level of need.
  • Know the community and make appropriate referrals.
Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development

Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children's behavior at every age help parents see their children in a positive light and promote their healthy development. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.

  • Help parents assess their parenting abilities through a tool such as the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI).
  • Educate resource parents about the effects of trauma on children through workshops and encouraging them to read articles on the topic such as this one in Fostering Perspectives
  • Attend Trauma-Informed Behavior Management (available to NC county DSS child welfare staff through, which will prepare you to teach parents about the experiences and needs of children in care and ways to parent effectively.
  • Promote joint training of workers and resource families; learning together can help them develop strong partnerships.
Social and Emotional Competence of Children

A child or youth's ability to interact positively with others, regulate their own behavior, and effectively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers. Challenging behaviors or delayed development create extra stress for families, so early identification and assistance for both parents and children can head off negative results and keep development on track.


  • Be sure children receive comprehensive assessments and appropriate treatment so they build social skills appropriate for behavioral, developmental, or mental health issues that they face.
  • Use home visits as an opportunity to coach parents to help children learn life skills (communication, conflict resolution, empathy) and build relationships with others.
  • Work with resource parents to involve children in school or community activities that help them develop positive relationships.
  • Coach parents on addressing behavior issues appropriately and in ways that will strengthen the parent-child relationship over time.

* Source: Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2012a

References for this and other articles in this issue