How Building Villages will Inspire Healthy Practices and Wellness in Families using the
Strengthening Families Framework

Building Villages hopes to serve the Treasure Valley as a preventative model of family support to develop a healthy environment for young children. We will welcome all new parents with the goal of inspiring positive parenting practices and family wellness. Building Villages will use the Strengthening Families Framework and incorporate Positive Parenting and other neuroscience-based parenting strategies to serve as the foundation for group curriculum and parenting education topics.  

Children are our most precious resource for the future. They learn by watching us interact with each other and the world.

Building Villages believes that the well-being of a community is enhanced when all parents have access to support and children’s earliest experiences are positive and healthy. Supporting parents is foundational to the healthy development of children. Research and the study of strong families confirms that positive and healthy outcomes of children are influenced largely by parents who are nurturing and responsive to their emotional and physical needs.

Early experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years can have lasting impact on later success in school and life. Barriers to children’s educational achievement start early, and continue to grow without intervention.

Early experiences have lifelong effects on the body—not just on cognitive and emotional development, but on long-term physical health as well. A growing body of evidence now links significant adversity in childhood to increased risk of a range of adult health problems, including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, obesity, and some forms of cancer.

The emotional well-being of young children is directly tied to the functioning of their caregivers and families. When relationships are reliably responsive and supportive, they can actually buffer young children from the adverse effects of stress, and later mental health complications.

All of society benefits from investments in early childhood.

Building Villages and the Strengthening Families Framework

Strengthening Families is an evidence-informed approach from the Center for the Study of Social Policy that focuses on increasing family strengths, enhancing child development, and reducing the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. Implementing Strengthening Families is about small but significant changes in everyday practice.Research confirms what many of us know intuitively: families thrive when key protective factors are robust in their lives and communities. But, fewer than 10% of children ages 0-5 are reached by any kind of preventive service, such as home visiting or parent education. The Strengthening Families Framework highlights key protective factors that strengthen families and prepare parents to cope with life stresses and foster a healthy environment.

Parental Resilience - The ability to nurture and support one’s children in times of stress  

We cannot prevent stress or crisis from happening to families—but we can give them the tools they need to respond effectively so that crisis does not impact their parenting and their children. Resilient parents are able to recognize and acknowledge difficulties while maintaining a positive attitude. When parents are resilient, they have more patience with their children day-to-day and are less likely to take their frustrations out on their children.

Children learn inherently by observing the way their parents interact with the world. By inspiring Parental Resilience, children will begin to learn resilience as well. Reducing the effects of significant adversity on children’s healthy development is essential to the progress and prosperity of any society. The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult. These relationships provide the personalized responsiveness, scaffolding, and protection that buffer children from developmental disruption. They also build key capacities—such as the ability to plan, monitor, and regulate behavior—that enable children to respond adaptively to adversity and thrive.

Building Villages will focus on:

  • Interacting with parents in a way that is positive and strengths-based, as well as honors and supports them as individuals and as parents.
  • Encouraging parents to recognize and plan for how they will respond to stressors.
  • Helping to build the skills to address  crisis by providing ways for parents to learn and practice skills in every-day circumstances.
  • Peer group meetings will encourage parents to share their experiences, successes, and challenges of the week, and group members will learn about managing daily routines, preparing for challenges, preventing crises, and problem-solving.

Social Connections - Positive relationships that provide emotional and informational support.

Several research studies have demonstrated that—for both mothers and fathers—high levels of emotional, informational, instrumental or spiritual support is associated with positive parental mood; positive perceptions of and responsiveness to one’s children; parental satisfaction, wellbeing and sense of competence; and lower levels of anger, anxiety and depression. It isn’t about how many people an individual knows, but the quality of those relationships and
the support received from them.

Building Villages will focus on:

  • Building groups where parents can make meaningful social connections, and develop healthy, sustained relationships with people to build community.
  • Building Villages will encourage ongoing connections with other parents beyond the initial group sessions so connections and peer support confidence can continue to strengthen.

Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development -  Parents’ understanding of development and strategies to support physical, cognitive, language, social, and emotional development.

Parents need real-time information, perspective, and strategies they can use with their children.  The knowledge that parents need is not one-size-fits-all, and opportunities to increase their knowledge can come from traditional parenting education classes or facilitated workshops, lectures, or more personalized settings such as peer support groups. Families are stronger when parents understand typical patterns in what a child is developmentally capable of, how parents need to care for a child based on its developmental state, and how to enhance development.

Adult learning theory helps us to understand that people are more likely to act on and use information when it is provided right when they are struggling with an issue; and when they have opportunities to not only learn it —but to see it in action and test out how to use the knowledge themselves. This can happen in a traditional parenting education class, but can also happen less formally, and in many other contexts. In fact, the ability for families to make regular connections and provide each other “just in time” parenting education and support in informal ways may be a crucial way to get information to parents.

Building Villages will focus on:

  • Developing a curriculum where peer group meetings will facilitate parents observing and support each other though interactions with their babies.
  • Building Villages curriculum topics, resources, lectures, and workshops will inform participants of important social, emotional, and developmental milestones.

Concrete Support - Access to supports and services that minimize the stress caused by challenges a family faces.

Families are stronger when they are connected to community resources that support the needs of parents and children. We all face times when we need support from others. When families have strong networks of social connections parents are able to get most of the support they need from those connections; but even socially connected families sometimes have to reach beyond their informal networks to the more formal set of community supports and services.

Building Villages will focus on:

  • Providing a venue for group members share all the resources they’ve found to be helpful. Parents will share information and connections to help each other get the help and resources they need.
  • Serving as a knowledge base for helpful parenting books, local resources, child care options, and more. Building Villages will provides ongoing communications and referrals that help parents find appropriate support and resources.
  • Create an online resource base of topics of interest to parents, including sites with research-based information on child development.

Social & Emotional Competence of Children - Family and child interactions that help children develop the ability to communicate clearly, recognize and regulate emotions, and establish and maintain relationships.

Families are stronger when the parents have a positive, nurturing relationship with their child.  Supporting parents in building children’s social and emotional competence can sound challenging. But if you are a parent or interact with children at all, there are so many simple things that we can do to help a child build their social and emotional skill base. Once children are able to understanding their own emotions, it is crucial for children to make the transition from understanding and controlling their own emotions to learning to recognize and empathize with the emotions of others.

Building Villages will focus on:

  • Ensuring peer support group content covers developmental activities that parents can use to build connections with their child.
  • Establishing curriculum and topics for peer support groups, book clubs, workshops, and parenting education that will include content on how to respond appropriately to children’s needs, stimulate healthy brain development, foster children’s emotional intelligence, and promote positive interaction between parents and children.

The early months and years of parenting are challenging and stressful. It is also the time when a family begins to define itself. Building Villages will devote the work of the organization to help get families off to a healthy start by supporting the development of wellness based parenting practices, and helping them to develop essential skills to be the best parent they can be.