If you are familiar with our newsletters, you have likely heard of the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors. This January, 38 new individuals became certified trainers of the Strengthening Families Protective Factors, adding to the 31 existing trainers.

Sue Smith, the Prevention Administrator for the Department of Child Safety Office of Prevention, played a critical role in bringing this training opportunity to Arizona child well-being sector professionals (at no cost to them!) by applying for federal grant funding. The Training of Trainers typically costs $2,200 per professional. Smith explains, “I have been wanting to do this for quite some time because I believe the protective factors strengthen families to help them thrive, and not just survive.” Smith also became certified at the training.

After completing the training, each newly certified trainer is required to provide at least three trainings to family-serving professionals, parents, and community members before the end of 2021. One new trainer, Michele Thorne, plans to train parents of children with disabilities. “Given that a child with a disability is 3.5 times more likely to be abused than their typically developing peer, I see a tremendous need for the disability community to learn the Strengthening Families Protective Factor framework,” Thorne says. “I thought I understood what families needed, but boy was I wrong. This training has given me insight into how to help families by building up the protective factors.”

The mother of two children diagnosed with autism, Thorne realized that while there is a wide range of programs to support children after their diagnosis, our state lacks programs to support the family as a whole. Thus, Thorne built DAMES (Differently Abled Mothers Empowerment Society). Thorne plans to infuse DAMES’s existing workshops and seminars with the protective factors so that they apply more directly to families raising a child with a disability.

Among the 38 new trainers, the ideas for implementation are numerous and diverse. Inspired by the relationships she has built through DCS’s annual Teen Parent University, Sue Smith plans to offer protective factors workshops to new teen mothers. Smith’s grant also funds a Community of Practice, which Prevent Child Abuse Arizona will coordinate, for all trainers to collaborate and build upon one another’s ideas. “With more Protective Factors trainers, we can bring about change to not only families, but the systems that serve families,” Sue shared. The ripple effect that these 38 trainers will induce can reach far and wide across Arizona systems. Furthermore, the cumulative 69 trainers make a statement that Arizona is committed to child abuse prevention by strengthening families and helping them thrive.

To request a Strengthening Families Protective Factors training for your organization, school, neighborhood, or friends, please contact Molly Peterson at molly@pcaaz.org.