Between worries about the health of their loved ones and themselves, financial concerns, lack of child care, and the struggle to support school-age kids with virtual learning, so many families are experiencing increased stress right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to support these families, last week we released two new Strengthening Families resources, one for parents and caregivers about building resilience and another for providers who work with families about staying focused on strengths during times of crisis.
Our partners like Be Strong Families, the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance, and local programs all around the country pivoted quickly to meet the needs of families when the pandemic struck, both by finding new, socially-distanced ways to continue existing services and by developing new resources and strategies in direct response to the crisis. Many of our partners use the Strengthening Families protective factors framework and approach in all of their work with families, and it was great to see so many of them using the protective factors as a way to organize resources and ideas. As the home of the Strengthening Families framework and approach, we wanted to add our perspective to the conversation and provide more resources that our partners and others could add to their toolboxes.
For parents, we developed a handout (also available as a web page) called Building Resilience in Troubled Times. We always talk about all five of the protective factors in the Strengthening Families framework together: parental resilience, social connections, knowledge of parenting and child development, concrete support in times of need, and nurturing children’s social-emotional competence. In this resource, we still talk about all five, but we focus most on resilience and how strengthening the other four protective factors can also help us build our resilience. The Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) defines parental resilience as the ability to manage stress and to function well even when bad things happen. Resilience is about finding a way to be the parent you want to be, no matter what else is going on around you, and we see that as a key to family well-being during this crisis. We felt that if we could give parents one big idea to remember, in the midst of this stressful time, it should be about their resilience and how to strengthen it.
The tool reflects many years of learning from and with our partners in the family support, child abuse and neglect prevention, and early childhood fields, including parent leaders and advocates. It is full of tips that parents can put into action in their daily lives, during this time of social distancing and being home with their children. In developing the document, we benefited from the wisdom and perspective of several colleagues at CSSP as well as members of the EC-LINC Parent Leader Network, who added critical ideas and tips for their fellow parents.
For providers who work with families, we developed another handout called Strengths-Based Practice in Troubled Times. Most home visitors, parenting educators, and other family support staff are accustomed to working with some families who are in crisis or facing serious challenges. But none of us, and among so many of the families we serve, have encountered this level of family stress before and all at once. And of course, service providers and their own families are facing some of the same challenges and concerns. For all of those reasons, we chose to focus on how we can maintain a strengths-based perspective when working with families in crisis and when we may not have as much contact (even virtually) with families as we typically do. The document outlines three simple steps providers can use in their interactions with families and three other strategies for families they work with over a longer period.
We encourage you to share both of these resources with providers who work with families—the provider piece for their own staff, and the parent piece for sharing with parents via the link or by providing hard copies with deliveries of food, diapers, and other supplies, or mailing to parents who are not online. We hope you will find them useful.
New Strengthening Families resources to help parents and providers cope with the stress brought on by the pandemic:
- Building Resilience in Troubled Times: A Guide for Parents
- Web page version of the guide: https://cssp.org/building-resilience-in-troubled-times-a-guide-for-parents/
- Print version for hard copy distribution: https://cssp.org/resource/building-resilience-in-troubled-times-a-guide-for-parents
- Strengths-Based Practice in Troubled Times (For Providers)
- Web page to the tool: ://cssp.org/resource/strengths-based-practice-in-troubled-times/
You can also find these along with all of CSSP’s position statements, policy briefs, and blog posts at our COVID-19 Clearinghouse: https://cssp.org/our-work/project/covid-19/.