Protective Factors Surveys

What are the Protective Factors Surveys?

The Protective Factors Survey (PFS) and the Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition (PFS-2) are designed for use with parents and caregivers participating in family support and child maltreatment prevention services. The PFS and PFS-2 assess multiple protective factors to prevent child abuse and neglect. Both surveys are intended to help agencies and programs better assess changes in family protective factors – a primary focus of prevention work. To view the tools, see the PFS or PFS-2 tabs below.

The survey results are designed to:

1) provide agencies with a snapshot of the families they serve,
2) measure changes in family protective factors, and
3) help identify areas where staff can focus on increasing protective factors for each family.

What is the Protective Factors Survey (PFS)?

The PFS is a pre-post evaluation tool for use with caregivers receiving child maltreatment prevention services. It is a self-administered survey that measures protective factors in five areas: family functioning/resiliency, social support, concrete support, nurturing and attachment, and knowledge of parenting/child development. A one-page overview of the tool can be viewed here.

Is the PFS the right tool for you?

As you make decisions about whether the PFS is the right tool for your program, please refer to our PFS Checklist.

If you find that the PFS is not the right fit for your services, you may want to review FRIENDS' annotated compendium of evaluation tools as a resource.

How was the PFS developed?

The PFS is a product of the FRIENDS National Center in collaboration with the University of Kansas Institute for Educational Research and Public Service. It was developed with the advice and assistance from CBCAP grantees, parents, researchers, administrators, workers, and experts specializing in family support, child maltreatment, and psychological measurement. The survey has undergone four national field tests for establishing reliability and validity. To view materials from that testing, see the Field Test Report and Phase 4 Summary documents on the left.

Is the PFS an evidence-based measurement tool?

Yes, the California Clearinghouse on Evidence-Based Practices (http://www.cebc4cw.org) has included the PFS as an evidence-based tool in their listings.

How is the PFS used?

The primary purpose of the Protective Factors Survey is to provide feedback to agencies for continuous quality improvement and evaluation purposes. The survey results are designed to help agencies measure changes in protective factors and identify areas where workers can focus on increasing individual family protective factors. A full set of instructions on how to administer the PFS can be found by downloading the PFS User Manual.

Why are the demographics and program information questions different on some versions of the PFS?

The demographics and program information questions were updated in September of 2020 to align the information across all versions of the PFS and PFS-2, allowing for streamlined data collection efforts by organizations utilizing multiple versions of the survey.  These changes did not impact the validity or reliability of the overall surveys.  To see a comprehensive matrix of the changes you can download the chart here. You can download the archived versions by clicking the titles here – 2008 PFS2008 Retrospective PFS2008 S-PFS

Is there an online data system for survey administration and data collection of the Protective Factors Survey?

The Protective Factors Survey Online Data System (PFSODS) is a web-based tool that allows users access to an online data system. This system enables users to manage all aspects of the original Protective Factors Survey (PFS) and the Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition (PFS-2). This system allows users to locally own their data while having access to a state-of-the-art online data collection system.

This system is designed to allow for a digital administration of the survey via direct interaction with clients or a text, email link, or QR code for completion at a separate time.  The system is responsive and can be administered on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop environment.  These options allow for direct entry by clients into the system, eliminating potentially time-consuming data entry.  If you don't have digital access for client administration- don't worry! You can still use this system.  You can administer traditional paper/pencil surveys and use the system for data entry via the paper entry format.

 

What is the Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition (PFS-2)?

The PFS-2 is an evaluation tool for use with caregivers receiving child maltreatment prevention services. It is a self-administered pre/post or retrospective survey that measures protective factors in five areas: family functioning and resilience, social supports, concrete supports, nurturing and attachment, and caregiver/practitioner relationship.

Is the PFS-2 the right tool for you?

As you make decisions about whether the PFS-2 is the right tool for your program, please review the Purpose and Use. Additional information to help agencies determine whether to use the retrospective or the pre/post version of the PFS-2 can be found here. If you find that the PFS-2 is not the right fit for your services, you may want to review FRIENDS' annotated compendium of evaluation tools as a resource.

How was the PFS-2 developed?

The PFS-2 is a product of the FRIENDS National Center in collaboration with the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research. While the original PFS continues to be a valid and reliable1 instrument that assesses multiple protective factors and can continue to be used, the PFS was revised to better capture families’ growth and change by clarifying and rewording questions. The PFS-2 was developed with the advice and assistance from CBCAP grantees, parents, researchers, administrators, workers, and experts specializing in family support, child maltreatment, and psychological measurement, and has undergone a national field test.

Is the PFS-2 an evidence-based measurement tool?

Yes, the California Clearinghouse on Evidence-Based Practices (http://www.cebc4cw.org) has included the PFS-2 as an evidence-based tool in their listings. To view the listing, please visit https://www.cebc4cw.org/assessment-tool/protective-factors-survey-2nd-edition/.

For more information, see peer-reviewed articles related to the PFS-2:

Sprague-Jones, J., Counts, J., Rousseau, M., & Firman, C. (2019). The development of the protective factors survey: a self-report measure of protective factors against child maltreatment. Child abuse & neglect, 89, 122-134 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0145213419300286

Sprague-Jones, J., Singh, P., Rousseau, M., Counts, J., & Firman, C. (2020). The Protective Factors Survey: Establishing validity and reliability of a self-report measure of protective factors against child maltreatment. Children and Youth Services Review111, 104868 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740919310412

How is the PFS-2 used?

The primary purpose of the Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition is to provide feedback to agencies for continuous quality improvement and evaluation purposes. The survey results are designed to help agencies measure changes in protective factors and identify areas where workers can focus on increasing individual family protective factors. Click here to learn more about the purpose and use of the PFS-2. A quick-start guide for staff preparing and administering the PFS-2 can be found here, and the full set of instructions on administering and scoring the PFS-2 can be found by downloading the PFS-2 User Manual.

Is there a Spanish version of the PFS-2?

A Spanish adaptation of the original PFS (S-PFS) has been tested and found to have good reliability and validity2. The instrument and its accompanying instructions are available in both English and Spanish. A culturally relevant adaptation of the PFS-2 for Spanish-speaking audiences is in development, but is not yet available.

Is there an online data system for survey administration and data collection of the Protective Factors Survey?

The Protective Factors Survey Online Data System (PFSODS) is a web-based tool that allows users access to an online data system. This system enables users to manage all aspects of the original Protective Factors Survey (PFS) and the Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition (PFS-2). This system allows users to locally own their data while having access to a state-of-the-art online data collection system.

This system is designed to allow for a digital administration of the survey via direct interaction with clients or a text, email link, or QR code for completion at a separate time.  The system is responsive and can be administered on a phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop environment.  These options allow for direct entry by clients into the system, eliminating potentially time-consuming data entry.  If you don't have digital access for client administration- don't worry! You can still use this system.  You can administer traditional paper/pencil surveys and use the system for data entry via the paper entry format.

Protective Factors Survey, 2nd Edition Resources

Scoring the PFS-2 Manually
PFS-2 FAQ


1. Counts, J. M., Buffington, E. S., Chang-Rios, K., Rasmussen, H. N., & Preacher, K. J. (2010). The development and validation of the protective factors survey: A self-report measure of protective factors against child maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(10), 762-772.

2. Conrad-Hiebner, A., Schoemann, A. M., Counts, J. M., & Chang, K. (2015). The development and validation of the Spanish adaptation of the Protective Factors Survey. Children and youth services review, 52, 45-53.

The FRIENDS National Center and the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research (CPPR) are excited to announce that the Protective Factors Survey 2 (PFS-2) has been translated into Spanish.  The field testing of the Spanish translation of the PFS-2 (SPFS-2) has begun.  The field test was designed with ease of participation and streamlined data collection in mind.

We are optimistic that with collaboration, we can provide a more robust instrument that will support the work your program and other programs across the country are doing to improve the lives of children and families.

How can my program participate in the SPFS-2 field test?

If your program is interested in participating, please complete this form or contact FRIENDS National Center at admin@friendsnrc.org.  When we receive the form or email indicating interest, please allow five to seven business days for us to contact you.  We will schedule a short meeting check-in with you to discuss what your participation will look like and what support you can expect from FRIENDS and CPPR.

How was the SPFS-2 Developed?

The SPFS-2 is a direct translation of the PFS-2 into Spanish. FRIENDS National Center for CBCAP (FRIENDS) has partnered with the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnership and Research (CPPR) to develop the SPFS-2.  CPPR contracted with Qualtrics to translate the PFS-2 into Spanish and field the translation with panel data. FRIENDS and CPPR consulted with practitioners with expertise in working with Spanish-speaking families and adjusted the translation at the item level based on their feedback. Results of CPPR’s analysis of panel data indicate that the Spanish translation psychometrically functions very similarly to the English version of the tool.

Can the original S-PFS continue to be used?

Yes – the original S-PFS continues to be a reliable and valid peer-reviewed instrument1 that assesses multiple protective factors to prevent child abuse and neglect. The original PFS and S-PFS and associated materials are still available on the FRIENDS website and can continue to be used.

How can the SPFS-2 be administered?

Both the PFS-2 and SPFS-2 (as part of the field test) are available for traditional paper/pencil administration or for electronic administration through the Protective Factors Survey Online Data System (PFSODS). Using that system, the survey can be administered electronically to program participants via direct device handoff,  email, text message, and QR code.  See the PFSODS section for more information.

How will data be shared during the SPFS-2 field testing?

The University of Kansas CPPR team will discuss current data collection practices with each program during the first face-to-face meeting and work with programs to integrate into their existing practices.  For more detailed information on the plan and the outline of the data collection, entry, and sharing protocol, see this document.

CPPR will help coordinate with partners to ensure any necessary research standards are met, including Institutional Review Board applications. For assistance, please contact us at pfs@ku.edu.

When will data be collected during the field test of the SPFS-2?

A detailed data collection plan including timeframes and schedule can be downloaded here.


1. Conrad-Hiebner, A., Schoemann, A. M., Counts, J. M., & Chang, K. (2015). The development and validation of the Spanish adaptation of the Protective Factors Survey. Children and youth services review, 52, 45-53.