Model Family Programs for Delinquency Prevention
Rating * Exemplary Target * 10-14 Speciality * Family Skills Training
Program * The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14
Description *

  The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP), originally resulted from an adaption of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP), originally developed at the University of Utah. Formally called the Iowa Strengthening Famlies Program, the long range goal of the curriculum is reduced substance use and behavior problems during adolescence. Intermediate objectives include improved skills in nurturing and child management by parents, improved interpersonal and personal competencies among youth, and prosocial skills in youth. Parent of all educational levels are targeted and printed materials for parents are written at an 8th grade reading level. All parent sessions, two youth, and two family sessions use videotapes portraying prosocial behaviors and are appropriate for multi-ethnic families.

The SFP 10-14 has seven two hour sessions for parents and youth, who attend separate skill-building groups for the first hour and spend the second hour together in supervised family activities. Four booster sessions are designed to be used six months to one year after the end of the first seven sessions in order to reinforce the skills gained in the original sessions. Youth sessions focus on strengthening goal setting, dealing with stress and strong emotions, communication skills, increasing responsible behavior, and improving skills to deal with peer pressure. Booster sessions focus on making good friends, handling conflict and reinforcing skills learned in the first seven sessions. Parents discuss the importance of both showing love to their youth while, at the same time, setting appropriate limits. Topics include making house rules, encouraging good behavior, using consequences, building bridges, and protecting against substance abuse. Booster sessions focus on handling parents' own stress, communicating when partners don't agree and reinforcing earlier skills.

Three controlled, longitudinal studies are underway. The first study (using the original Iowa Strengthening Families Program) is now in its fifth year and includes 442 families in areas with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged families. Analysis of the data comparing pre and post-test and follow-up assessments indicated that that both the youth and parents made significant gains in targeted behavior. For example, child problem behavior outcomes (e.g. substance use, conduct problems, school-related problem behaviors, peer resistance, and affiliation with antisocial peers) have generally shwon positive program effects over time. These positive changes are indicated by both delayed onset of problem behaviors and relatively more gradual increases in these behaviors over the three years following implementation of the program. At the post-test and follow-up evaluations, ther are significant positive differences between parents who attended the intervention and the control group in behaviors specifically targeted by the intervention, as well as the more general parenting outcomes of parent-child affective quality and general child management. Imporved pareting is significantly related to positive outcome for youth. A second study, in tis second year, compares three groups - (1) those whose youth receive the Life Skills Training (LST) in school, (2) those whose families come to the SFP 10-14 in addition to the LST and (3) control families. A third study is of African-American families with 100 families who take part in the SFP 10-14 and control families.

    Contact * Virginia Molgaard, Ph.D.
Richard Spoth, Ph.D. 
    Address* Iowa State University
Social and Behavioral Research Center for Rural Health
2625 North Loop Drive, Suite 500 
        Ames, IA  50010
    Phone * 515 294-8762 or 294-9752
    Email  * 
    Dept. of Health Promotion and Education

Funded by - Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention