parents and small children sitting on couch together and laughing while enjoying quality time together

The purpose of the Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) is to prevent child abuse and neglect. The primary way the CTF board fulfills this purpose is through grantmaking to local communities to develop child and family well-being services that can prevent child abuse and neglect. Specific emphasis for funding is placed on evidence-based and research-informed primary and secondary prevention programs, which focus on preventing abuse before it occurs for the first time.

The Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund is administered by the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL).

Child and Family Well-being and Preventing Child Maltreatment

Child well-being is supported by families, communities and systems. Research literature strongly suggests that primary prevention is most often the least expensive and most effective means of addressing a wide range of issues, including child abuse and neglect. It is proactive, providing help before a crisis begins. Primary and secondary prevention services take measures to keep abuse and neglect from occurring for the first time in a family and build on family strengths, as opposed to providing services following an incidence of child abuse or focusing solely on family deficits.
Child maltreatment continues to occur in Pennsylvania communities. In 2021 substantiated reports of child abuse rose from 1.7 per 1,000 children to 1.9 per 1,000 children. Though an increase was expected in 2021 due to lower rates of reporting in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the numbers reflect a need for prevention efforts.

CTF funds community-based organizations to provide primary and secondary prevention programs through three-year grants to implement evidence-based programs and promising practices that become part of the community’s continuum of family support prevention services. Funds support parents and caregivers to create safe and nurturing environments for their children. Grantees are asked to collaborate in their community, intentionally integrate the Strengthening Families Protective Factors™ (SFPF) Framework into their work and create a plan to sustain their programs after CTF funds have expired.

Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors Framework (SFPF)

The SFPF Framework encourages partnership to build environments in which families can grow their protective factors. It is an approach — not a model. It moves the conversation from “What’s wrong?” to “What’s strong?”

The Protective Factors identified through research by the Center for the Study of Social Policy are:

Parental resilience – Managing stress and functioning well for self and nurturing child.

Social connections for families – Positive relationships that provide support.

Knowledge of parenting and child development – Understanding child development milestones and parenting strategies.

Concrete support in times of need – Services that minimize stress.

Healthy social and emotional development – Family-child interactions that help children communicate, regulate, and maintain relationships.

The Children’s Trust Fund Board supports the work of the Pennsylvania Strengthening Families Leadership Team (SFLT.) The SFLT strategic plan addresses:

  • Policy – Systems that impact families.
  • Practice – Among professionals that support strengths-based services.
  • Partnerships – Among community and statewide organizations and with parents to develop strategies that contribute to child and family well-being.

Pennsylvania SFLT encourages an asset orientation to work with families through its website and Facebook page. It promotes activities such as professional learning workshops and parent cafes.


Since its inception, CTF has invested more than $ 41.7 million through 328 grants. Funds for CTF are generated from:

  • $10 surcharge on all applications for marriage licenses and divorce complaints that are paid into a special non-lapsing fund.
  • Income tax check-off option. Taxpayers can contribute all or a portion of their Pennsylvania tax refund.
  • Online vehicle registration and driver’s license renewal funds.
  • Interest and donations also contribute to the fund.

Donations by check are accepted at:
Pennsylvania Children’s Trust Fund
Office of Child Development and Early Learning
607 South Drive, 4th Floor Rotunda, Harrisburg, PA 17120

Family Support Team

Center for Schools and Communities Family Support Team provides professional learning, monitoring, and technical assistance to Children’s Trust Fund grantees. In addition to the annual meeting, specialized webinars are offered, and online learning opportunities are held regularly on topics related to child and family well-being, parent engagement, child development, and strengthening families.

Family Support Team webinars are usually held on the first Wednesday of each month. View recorded webinars.

Family Support News Briefs cover topics like Parents as Teachers model fidelity and training, Strengthening Families protective factors, prevention of child abuse, childhood injury prevention, and more. View issues of the Family Support News Brief.