Richard Catalano, Ph.D.,
Contact: Kevin Haggerty, M.S.W.
Social Development Research Group
9725 3rd Ave., NE Suite 401
Seattle, Washington 98115
(206) 685-1997 Fax: (206) 543-4507
Focus on Families is designed for families with parents who are addicted to drugs. The program
is most appropriate for parents enrolled in methadone treatment who have children between of 3
and 14 years of age. Parents are encouraged to have at least 90 days of methadone treatment
prior to beginning the program.
As a result of Focus on Families, parents are expected to have less risk for relapse, to be
better skilled to cope with relapse incidents, and to have decreased drug use episodes. Parents
objectives are to increase family management skills, anger management skills, refusal and
problem solving skills, ability to teach these skills to their children, and the ability to assist their
children with academic success. Children will experience less exposure to risk factors and more
exposure to protective factors, with the ultimate result being decreased participation in drug use
and delinquent behavior.
Eligible families participate in a five-hour "family retreat" where families learn
about the curriculum, identify their goals, and participate together in trust-building activities.
The first session is followed by 32 curriculum sessions (90 minutes each), conducted twice weekly for 16
weeks. Parent sessions are conducted in the mornings, with practice sessions held in the
evenings for parents and children together. Content covered includes Family Goal Setting;
Relapse Prevention; Family Communication Skills; Family Management Skills; Creating Family
Expectations about drugs and alcohol; Teaching Skills to Children; Helping Children Succeed in
School. Parent sessions, follow-up, and home-based care management are provided by
Masters level therapists.
Parent outcomes showed that experimental parents, at all time points for all skill measures
(problem solving, self efficacy, social support, family factors, etc.), had significantly higher scores
than control group parents and displayed greater self-efficacy than controls at each of the three
follow-up time points. At the 6-month follow-up, there were small differences in the number of
family meetings favoring experimental families. At the 12-month follow-up, there was a trend
level difference, indicating that experimental parents had fewer deviant peers than controls. At
12 month follow-up parents in the experimental group reported a 65% reduction in heroin use
frequency compared to control groups and were 6 times less likely to use cocaine in the last
month than control group parents. Although no statistically differences between experimental and
control children were found in the areas of drug use or delinquency at 6 to 12 month follow-up,
the direction of differences favored the experimental group in all but one of the comparisons
made in these two areas. Secondary analysis of individual items in the delinquency scale
revealed that children in the experimental group were less likely than controls to have reported
stealing in the 6 months prior to the 6 month interview (26% vs. 10%. Odds ratio n = 0.31, p <
.10, n =
77). At the 24 month follow-up point the direction continues to be in the favored
direction and the difference in prevalence of marijuana use in the past month and picking fights in
the past 6 months reveals trend level significance.
Focus on Families requires two trainers to conduct the parent session (32 sessions) and two
additional trainers to conduct the sessions when children are present (12 sessions). The program
also may include a home-based case management component staffed by two MSW's. Program
costs include purchasing the basic set of curriculum manuals and workbook masters ($200 plus
shipping and handling). Costs cover expenses to reproduce and assemble materials--the
curriculum is then available to duplicate.) and the case management manual ($15). The program
uses video-taped feed-back so a video camera and playback monitor are essential. In addition it
is recommended that childcare, snacks, and transportation be provided. Also needed for each
family are copies of the parent workbook and three-ring notebooks, and poster-board for
family goals. Other general supplies such as toys, gift certificates, grocery certificates, for children and
their parents should be provided. Poster board for skill steps, and general group supplies
(markers, easel paper, etc) are also needed.
Training for the program is available by the developers and can be negotiated directly with
them. Costs vary depending on the length and intensity of the training. Visits to the program site can be
arranged through the developers.