The Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) is coordinating efforts to embed the Strengthening Families™ framework into all child and family service systems in Pennsylvania. State agencies joining the work include Pennsylvania’s Children’s Trust Fund; Department of Welfare’s Office of Children, Youth and Families (Child Welfare) and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services; Department of Education; Department of Health; Commission on Crime and Delinquency (Juvenile Justice) and Early Intervention Technical Assistance. Other partners include Center for Schools and Communities, Pennsylvania KEYS and Regional KEYS training and technical assistance system for certified child care providers; Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance; Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association (PTA); Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania; American Academy of Pediatrics–Pennsylvania Chapter; Parent Education Network, Child Welfare Resource Center, PA Head Start Association, PA State Afterschool Youth Development Network, county child welfare agencies, local school districts, family centers, intermediate units and higher education; and United Way.
The leadership team is working to weave Strengthening Families into existing policies, programs and practice across child and family service systems using three key areas where an investment in focused work can leverage opportunities to integrate Strengthening Families ideas into a large number of programs and/or have a sustainable impact over time. These key areas are (1) building collaboration across systems, (2) infusing protective factors into professional development and (3) building parent partnerships.
The state leadership team meets quarterly to oversee and guide the integration of the protective factors into all child and family serving systems. Funding for leadership team activities and staffing are provided through OCDEL and with funding from the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund.
Levers for Change
“Levers for change” are high-level approaches to initiate sweeping and attainable changes in how we support communities and families. The goal is to strengthen families so they are better able to provide children with safe and happy childhoods. The Center for the Study of Social Policy’s (CSSP’s) Strengthening Families initiative has identified three levers for change that help to create the incentives, capacity and impetus for many more programs to take on a protective-factors approach.
The three levers for change are: