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Strengthening families takes center stage

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

By Ferrell Foster

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has launched a Strengthening Families emphasis to help each Texas family become a better version of itself. No family is perfect, so each can be improved.

My wife and I have raised five kids into adults. We were not perfect parents despite our deep love and commitment to our kids. We were always working to learn more and do better, so I'm really glad these tools are available to help today's parents. And grandparents, like me, are part of the mix.

The DFPS toolkit is built on Five Protective Factors to help re-envision stronger families, to build positive relationships between children and adults who care for them, and to mitigate the risks that lead to child abuse and neglect. The five are: parental resilience, social connections, concrete supports, knowledge of parenting & child development, and social & emotional competence of children.

From my experience as a parent and grandparent, I can strongly affirm these five factors. They are especially important in situations that have serious challenges, such as financial struggles, substance abuse, and histories of abuse. Even in the midst of such serious challenges, parents can work to make healthier homes.

Organizations throughout Waco can support this effort, as well. There are resources to use for a weekly emphasis on each of the Protective Factors.

I would add one little tip to parents -- show your kids you love them. The emphasis is on "show." Say, "I love you," but words without action simply disappear in space and time and become meaningless. In my faith tradition, "to love" means to sacrifice for, to give oneself for, to care for others as much as self. It starts at home and spreads outward.

Kids need this kind of active, sacrificing love. And these Protective Factors can help us show it.

Ferrell Foster, D.Min., is senior specialist for care & communication with Prosper Waco. He is also co-chair of the local Families & Foster Care Coalition. If you are interested in joining the coalition, please email Ferrell at


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