Concrete supports for parents, youth and children

Concrete Supports, one of the five Protective Factors, includes community resources and essential services that can help meet the basic needs of parents.

Do you know where to go when you need help with issues that come up in your life?  Many of us, including youth and children, need help and support at times.  Parents may not always know about community resources or how to access essential services.  Concrete supports for parents, youth, and children, is one of the Protective Factors identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, its Child Welfare Information Gateway, the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention and theCenter for the Study of Social Policy-Strengthening Families.

Many factors affect a family’s ability to care for their children. Families who can meet their own basic needs and who also know how to access essential services are better able to ensure their children’s safety and well being.  Basic needs include food, clothing, housing, and transportation.  Essential services include such things as child care, health care, and mental health services to address family-specific needs.  Identifying and accessing essential services resources in the community may help prevent or lessen the stress that sometimes interferes with a child’s ability to reach his or her potential.  

Youth and children also need concrete supports from their parents and other significant adults to help them solve problems, express feelings constructively, navigate through their world of making friends, and build relationships with others.  When youth feel supported by parents and other adults in their efforts, they develop the tools of self-esteem and efficacy to learn and develop new skills.

Communities have many organizations and agencies that offer helpful programs and information to parents, youth and children.  Yet many families under-utilize the services that are available to them, often because they are unaware of what services are available or how to find them.  Good places to begin finding resources can be local libraries, county and municipal websites, local MSU Extension offices and local Department of Human Services offices.  These places may have directories of services or have staff who are familiar with services in the area. Another way to get familiar with services is to get involved in community and school activities and meetings.   Being involved in events and meetings can be a good place to get to know others who may have similar circumstances, to voice needs and concerns, and to begin to find resources to address them.  Visit the Strengthening Families and Communities 2011 Resource Guide for more information.

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