Strengthening Families Program


Prevention Links identifies the importance of family and the resiliency strong parental involvement provides. Focusing on this approach, Prevention Links offers the Strengthening Families Program. This includes three curricula under the Strengthening Families title addressing families of youth ages 6-11, 10-14 and families of teens ages 13-17. All the curricula are similar in format and are designed to work with youth and families on relationship and skill building.

The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth resulted from an adaptation of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), originally developed at the University of Utah. Formerly called the Iowa Strengthening Families Program, the long-range goal for the curriculum is reduced substance use and behavior problems during adolescence. Intermediate objectives include improved skills in nurturing and child management by parents, and improved interpersonal and personal competencies among youth.

The SFP curriculum includes three courses (Parent Skills Training, Children’s Skills Training and Family Life Skills Training) taught in either 7 or 14 two-hour sessions. In the first hour, parents and children participate in separate classes, each class led by two co-leaders. Parents learn to increase desired behaviors in children by using attention and rewards, clear communication, effective discipline, substance use education, problem solving, and limit setting. Children learn effective communication, understanding feelings, coping with anger and criticism, stress management, social skills, problem solving, resisting peer pressure, consequences of substance use, and compliance with parental rules.

During the second hour families practice structured family activities, therapeutic child play, family meetings, communication skills, effective discipline, reinforcing positive behaviors in each other, and jointly planning family activities. Incentives for attendance, positive participation, homework completion, and graduation are incorporated into the program. Family meals are provided before each session. Often transportation and child care are also available as features of the program to reduce barriers to participation.

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