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6% of Children & 11% of Families Meet Thriving Benchmarks 

 Search Institute is a research firm that focuses on the health and well-being of children and families. 

Since 1990, they have conducted landmark research with over 3 million children throughout the U.S.  Two of their studies,  "The State of Developmental Assets among American Youth" and "The American Family

Assets Survey" highlight key elements needed for the wellbeing of children and families.

The Wellbeing of Children

The Search Institute identified four factors that impact the healthy development of children. They've suggested benchmarks in each of the four, which when met, indicate that a child is truly thriving. Not just "not at risk" - but thriving, and equipped with the foundation they'll need to become happy, confident, responsible adults. 

 In their 2011 survey of over 89,000 youth in 26 states,

only 6% met the suggested benchmarks in all four categories.

The four categories Search Institute used in this study and their suggested benchmarks are as follows:

To better understand what is meant by

 "thriving"  vs. "not at risk" 

it helps to look in more detail at the first of these four categories,

the 40 Developmental Assets.

 These 40 Developmental Assets consist of positive supports, opportunities, and relationship qualities young people need across all aspects of their lives (called “external assets”) and personal skills, social emotional strengths, self-perceptions, and values they need to make good choices, take responsibility for their actions, and be independent (called “internal assets”). 

The 20 external assets include:
  • Positive family communication
  • Caring school climates
  • Adult role models
  • Participation in creative activities
  • Involvement in Spritual / Religious Communities
The 20 internal assets include:
  • Integrity
  • Self-esteem
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Caring
  • Peaceful conflict resolution skills

For a full list of the 40 Developmental Assets and to learn more about Search Institute's work, use the following link:

What does it mean for kids that only 6% are thriving?  Click below to find out.

The Wellbeing of Families

The Search Institute has conducted the most comprehensive survey of family assets in the U.S. The survey explored the link between family assets and measurable outcomes for young people, parenting adults, and families.


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  • Only 11% of families scored "excellent" - having 16 - 21 family assets.

  • The average family had less than half the assets that are ideal for families.

What are Family Assets?

Relationships, opportunities, values, and self-perceptions that position family members to thrive.

The 5 Categories of Family Assets



  1. Family Meals

  2. Shared Activities

  3. Meaningful Traditions

  4. Dependability



  1. Neighborhood Bonds

  2. Supportive Resources

  3. Relationships with Others

  4. Enriching Activities

Adapting to 


  1. Adaptability

  2. Managing Daily Tasks

  3. Problem Solving

  4. Democratic Decision-Making



  1. Fair Rules

  2. Clear Expectations

  3. Contributions to Family

  4. Defined Boundaries

  5. Openness about Tough Topics



  1. Emotional Openness

  2. Positive Communication

  3. Support for Passions and Interests

  4. Affection

Hover on a

Circle to see

the assets

Families were given a score from 0 to 100 based on how many of the 21 assets they possessed.

The Family Assets Index assesses where families land on The Search Institute's aspirational ideal for healthy families. 

Parenting adults hold the responsibility to establish and nurture these family assets. Children should be involved at age-appropriate levels, but developmentally, they don't have the skills to establish and nurture them. However, as the parenting adults create and foster these assets, they model how to do so for their children. 

The Family Asset Index contains 21 assets grouped in 5 categories.

What does having more or less assets mean for families? Click below to find out.

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