Essentials for Childhood Framework

Steps to Create Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments

What to know

Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are essential to preventing early adversity and assuring that all children reach their full potential. The Essentials for Childhood Framework proposes strategies for communities to promote the types of relationships and environments that help children and families thrive.


The Essentials for Childhood framework is intended for anyone committed to the positive development of children and families, and specifically to the prevention of all forms of child abuse and neglect. It is organized into four sections, with each one focused on a goal and related steps. While each individual goal is important, the four goals together are more likely to build the foundation of safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.

Goals and strategies

Goal 1: raise awareness and commitment to promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments and prevent child abuse and neglect

  • Adopt the vision of "assuring safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments to protect children from child abuse and neglect"
  • Raise awareness in support of the vision
  • Partner with others to unite behind the vision

Goal 2: use data to inform actions

  • Build a partnership to gather and synthesize relevant data
  • Take stock of existing data
  • Identify and fill critical data gaps
  • Use the data to support other action steps

Goal 3: create the context for healthy children and families through norms change and programs

  • Promote the community norm that we all share responsibility for the well-being of children
  • Promote positive community norms about parenting programs and acceptable parenting behaviors
  • Implement evidence-based programs for parents and caregivers

Goal 4: create the context for healthy children and families through policies

  • Identify and assess which policies may positively impact the lives of children and families in your community
  • Provide decision-makers and community leaders with information on the benefits of evidence-based strategies and rigorous evaluation

Working together

While child abuse and neglect is a significant public health problem, it is also a preventable one. The steps suggested in the Essentials for Childhood Framework—along with your commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect—can help create neighborhoods, communities, and a world in which every child can thrive.



Tools and trainings

  • ACEs Trainings: These online trainings are designed to help users understand, recognize, and prevent ACEs from occurring in the first place. There is an introductory Training Module as well as modules with information for professionals working directly with and on behalf of kids and families.
  • Connecting the Dots: A free, online training that helps users implement prevention strategies that address shared risk and protective factors across multiple forms of violence.
  • EvaluACTION: A tool designed for people interested in learning about program evaluation and how to apply it to their work.
  • Making the Case: Engaging Businesses Training: A free online resource that explains how users and their communities can work with the business sector to assure safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families.
  • Principles of Prevention: Online training on how to apply key concepts of primary prevention, the public health approach, and the social-ecological model for violence prevention work.