Strengths-Based Practice in Troubled Times

Center for the Study of Social Policy's Strengthening Families: A Protective Factors Framework

Everyone who works with families is dealing with a set of extraordinary challenges. Millions of people have lost their incomes, while others have to go to work afraid of becoming ill and infecting their families. Parents are stressed taking care of little kids, becoming the teachers of schoolage kids, and working from home if they still have a job. And our country’s long history of racism has led to a radically uneven distribution of risks, as people of color are made ill—and killed—by COVID-19 at rates far higher than White people. We know that when parents and caregivers are under stress, children struggle too—with strained interactions and relationships, not enough attention or resources, and sometimes even abuse and neglect.

What does strengths-based practice look like in the face of all this adversity? This tool is meant to help you stay grounded in family strengths as a way to overcome challenges and help families thrive even when the current crisis is weighing heavily on your mind, and on theirs. The six steps outlined below—three to guide every interaction you have with families, and three more for when you are engaged with a family over a longer period—will help you to keep the focus on strengths.