Strengthening Families

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Description of Program
Parents want to protect their child at all costs. However, sometimes this is challenging. Learning to overcome difficult situations in life—peer pressure, stress, or lack of strong familial relationships—is a two-way street. Youth need skills to help them resist the peer pressure that leads to risky behaviors while parents/caregivers need skills to communicate with youth and be aware of potentially risky behaviors. Research shows that protective parenting improves family relationships and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use.

The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) has made a difference in thousands of families in all 50 states and in over 25 countries.

SFP 10-14 is taught with 8-10 families over seven weeks, usually in the evenings. Each session is approximately 2 ½ hours in length. The first half hour consists of a family dinner. Families are encouraged to sit together and have dinner, an important protective factor for families to have. The goal is to have this translate over into the families' homes. Parents and youth then meet in separate groups for the first hour and together as families during the second hour to practice skills, play games, and do family projects. Sessions are highly interactive and include role-playing, discussions, learning games, and family projects.

Parent sessions consist of presentations, role-plays, group discussions, and other skill-building activities. Youth sessions engage each youth in small and large group discussions, group skill practice, and social bonding activities. Family sessions use specially designed games and projects to increase family bonding, build positive communication skills, and facilitate learning to solve problems together. It is recommended that the group size be smaller when dealing with families where parents have begun to have concerns over the problematic behavior of their youth.
Four optional booster sessions may be held three to twelve months after the initial program.

This evidence-based curriculum helps parents/caregivers learn nurturing skills that support their children, teaches parents/caregivers how to effectively discipline and guide their youth, gives youth a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers, and teaches youth skills on dealing with stress and peer pressure.

Implementing The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 resulted in youth having significantly lower rates of alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use compared to those who did not participate in the program. Youth involved with SFP 10-14 also had fewer conduct problems in school. Parents showed an increase in parenting skills and general child management as well as an increase in positive feelings toward their child. Research also showed that differences between the control group and the experimental group increased over time. For example, the strength of family relationships continued to increase for the experimental group once the program was over as compared to the control group.

For additional information, please contact:
Helen Varvi, M. Ed., CPS
Deputy Director at
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Or call at 732-254-3344 ext. 137


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