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DABSJ’s Larry Smith Named Protective Factors Trainer by Michigan Federation for Children and Families 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s, a leading provider of child welfare and human services in West Michigan, is proud to announce the appointment of DABSJ Training and Development Manager Larry Smith as a Protective Factors trainer by the Michigan Federation for Children and Families. Smith will play a pivotal role in bringing Protective Factors training to a broader group of child welfare staff and agencies as offerings expand in 2024. 

Protective Factors are focused on supporting conditions and skills that can help individuals, families, and communities build resilience and mitigate the effects of the challenges they face. Put simply, they are the strengths that help to buffer and support families who are at risk. 

“This training is important for any child welfare and human services team because the youth and families we work with have experienced trauma, chronic stress, and adversity,” said Smith. “Using a Protective Factors approach can be a positive way to engage families because it focuses on strengths and what they are doing right.” 

There are six key Protective Factors: 

  1. Nurturing and Attachment: This factor emphasizes the importance of loving and caring relationships between caregivers and children. It promotes the idea that when children feel loved and connected, they are better equipped to handle life’s challenges.
  2. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: Understanding child development and effective parenting techniques is essential. It equips parents and caregivers with the tools to provide appropriate guidance and support at each developmental stage.
  3. Parental Resilience: Parental resilience refers to the ability of parents to bounce back from adversity. This factor underscores the importance of having coping strategies and a support system to navigate life’s challenges.
  4. Social Connections: Building a strong support network is crucial. Families thrive when they have people they can turn to for help, advice, and friendship. This support extends beyond immediate family and includes friends and community connections.
  5. Concrete Support in Times of Need: Families need access to resources and assistance during challenging times. This factor ensures that families can find help when they face difficulties, be it financial, emotional, or practical support.
  6. Social and Emotional Competence of Children: This factor emphasizes the importance of teaching children how to understand and express their emotions effectively. Children who can communicate their feelings and interact positively with others tend to have better outcomes.

DABSJ wholeheartedly commends Smith’s dedication to improving the well-being of Michigan’s families. As a Protective Factors trainer, he will play a vital role in equipping professionals with the knowledge and tools to support vulnerable families, while also furthering the primary goal of foster care: family reunification.  

“We are fortunate to have Larry as part of our team,” said Mary Muliett, DABSJ President and CEO. “His appointment underscores our commitment to building strong families – the cornerstone of our community.”  

The Protective Factors training is currently available free of charge by the Michigan Federation for Children and Families for staff in family preservation and residential treatment agencies. In 2024, that will be extended to foster care and adoption workers as well. For details on Protective Factors training, visit

DABSJ is inclusive and welcoming – from our team members, to the children we serve, to the families we license as foster parents. You could play a part in providing homes and hope for children who need a place to be themselves.