About SFI

Strengthening Families Illinois is a statewide movement to build six Protective Factors that keep families strong. Our network of parent leaders is mobilizing thousands of parents to strengthen families in their communities. At SFI early childhood programs throughout Illinois, staff and families are partnering to keep children safe and families strong. We hope you’ll take advantage of the resources and training we’ve developed to build families’ Protective Factors.

To view our strategic plan, click here.


Strengthening Families Illinois began as part of Strengthening Families Through Early Care and Education. In 2002, with funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Center for the Study for Social Policy set out to develop a strategic, feasible approach to child abuse prevention that would be systematic and national, reach large numbers of very young children, and have impact long before abuse or neglect occurred. Their research revealed that proven, positive results take place when early childhood centers build Protective Factors around children.

In 2004, the Center for the Study for Social Policy solicited proposals from all states to pilot the Strengthening Families approach. Illinois was one of seven states selected. In 2005, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services convened more than 20 collaborative partner organizations and state agencies from the child welfare, child abuse prevention, family support and early childhood fields as well as parents and community leaders to promote the Protective Factors across systems and settings. Together, they created a strategic plan to guide SFI’s work.

Here are just a few highlights of major developments at SFI since its founding:

  • Development of Learning Networks for early care and education programs to enhance their ability to build families’ Protective Factors
  • Embedding of the Protective Factors in the work of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
  • Growth of the SFI Parent Leadership Team to include thousands of parents across Illinois who are working to keep families and communities strong
  • Launching of Parent Cafés as a way for parents to have life-changing, family-strengthening conversations
  • Release of Café Talk, a portable Parent Café card game

We know you’re doing great work to strengthen families, and we want to recruit you! Contact us today, or come to one of the events in our calendar at right.