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Strengthening Families Program I (SFP-I)



The Strengthening Families Program I (SFP-I) involves elementary school-aged children and their families in family skills training sessions. SFP was originally developed and tested in 1983 with 6- to 12-year-old children of parents in substance abuse treatment. Since then, culturally modified versions with new manuals have been evaluated and found effective for families with diverse backgrounds: African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Canadian, and Australian. SFP is also now widely used with non-substance-abusing parents in elementary schools, faith communities, housing communities, mental health centers, jails, homeless shelters, protective service agencies, and social and family services agencies.

SFP uses family systems and cognitive-behavioral approaches to increase resilience and reduce risk factors for behavioral, emotional, academic, and social problems. Incentives are offered for attendance, good behavior in children, and homework completion to increase program recruitment and participation.

Results include:

  • Improved resilience, assets, and protective factors in children and parents.
  • Decreased risk factors in parents and children.
  • Decreased children’s behavioral problems and conduct disorders.
  • Improved family cohesion, communication, and organization.
  • Decreased family conflict and stress.

Details of outcome studies are available at the Strengthening Families Program Web site: http://www.strengtheningfamiliesprogram.org/evaluation.html.

Risk Factors


Antisocial/delinquent beliefs

Conduct disorders (authority conflict/rebellious/stubborn/disruptive/antisocial)

General delinquency involvement

High alcohol/drug use


Antisocial parents

Child maltreatment (abuse or neglect)

Delinquent siblings

Family violence (child maltreatment, partner violence, conflict)

Having a teenage mother

High parental stress/maternal depression

Low parental attachment to child/adolescent

Parental use of physical punishment/harsh and/or erratic discipline practices

Poor parental supervision (control, monitoring, and child management)

Poor parent-child relations or communication



Frequent school transitions

Frequent truancy/absences/suspensions; expelled from school; dropping out of school

Identified as learning disabled

Low academic aspirations

Low achievement in school

Low school attachment/bonding/motivation/commitment to school

Old for grade/repeated a grade

Poor student-teacher relations

Poorly defined rules and expectations for appropriate conduct

Student failure in the first grade


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Model program

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Model program

OJJDP Blueprints Project: Promising program


Karol Kumpfer, Ph.D.
Department of Health Promotion and Education
University of Utah
250 South, 1850 East, Room 215
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0920
Phone: (801) 581-7718
Fax: (801) 581-5872
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://www.strengtheningfamiliesprogram.org/contact.html


Kumpfer, K. L., and Alvarado, R. (1998). “Effective Family Strengthening Interventions.” Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Date Created: April 7, 2021