Prevention Services

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is one of the most powerful programs for family change in the country because it involves not just the parents or children alone, but the whole family. The SFP is unique because it was developed specifically for children of alcohol- or drug-abusing parents and is designed to reduce risk factors in both substance abuse and juvenile delinquency areas. The program targets two age groups:

  • 6-11 year olds
  • 12-15 year olds

Drs. Karol Kumpfer and DeMarsh and Wendy Child, M.S.W., developed the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) in 1983. The program's development was due to a request by parents in Project Reality, a methadone maintenance clinic, to help them improve their parenting skills. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded the project development.

The Strengthening Families Program has been found to have a positive impact on risk and protective factors (DeMarsh & Kumpfer, 1986; Kumpfer, Molfaard, & Spoth, 1996; Kumpfer & Baxley, 1997) in a variety of diverse settings. The SFP allows intervention at various levels of family functioning because it involves the whole family.

    Parents reported:
  • Decrease in drug use
  • Decrease in depression
  • Decreased use of corporal punishment
  • Increased parental efficacy
    Results for children show:
  • Reduced impulsivity
  • Improved home behavior
  • Fewer problem behaviors in general, and
  • Lower intention to use tobacco and alcohol.

Parent Skills Group

Each week, the group will focus on learning a new skill that will improve the quality of family life. The skills build on each other, and the material is presented in a variety of ways including exercises, lectures, discussions, videos, role playing, etc.

Children Skills Group

Children 6-10 years of age will participate in the Children's Training Sessions/Skills Group. Each week, the children will be taught skills that relate to the skills being taught in the Parent Skills Group. Children are taught through the use of exercises, role play, puppet shows, discussions, etc. Children following group rules will receive reinforcements and incentives (stickers, prizes, etc.) for appropriate behavior.

Family Skills Group

The Family Training/Family Skills Group follows the parent and children groups and is designed with each session lasting one hour. Parents and children participate together in these sessions.


  • One parent in each family must be a current client of a substance abuse treatment program.
  • At least one child in the family must be between the ages of 6-11 years or 12-15 years.
  • Clients in the CASCADE Services Program must have completed Level 1.
  • Client must be producing negative drug screens.
  • Participation is mandatory for CASCADE Services residential clients who meet the above criteria.
  • Both parents (or other parent figures) are encouraged to attend as long as at least one family member meets the above criteria.
  • Families must be willing to participate in the 14-week program and at least three in-home visits.

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