Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14

A substance use prevention program targeted towards youth aged 10-14 and their families

Originally developed in the 1980s as a 14-session module for high-risk families with young children, the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) now has field-tested versions for families with children of different age groups, including ages 10-14.

The program has been extensively evaluated in the peer-reviewed literature and is rated by researchers as among the most effective family-oriented substance use prevention education interventions.

The basic SFP consists of seven sessions with 7-10 families and includes:

  • life and peer resistance skills training
  • goal development
  • emotion management
  • building positive parent-child relationships

Activities include discussions, role-playing, games, and family projects. Sample curricula are available for viewing and the full program can be purchased on CDs. Four optional booster sessions are available to be held three to twelve months after the original program. 

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

Continuum of Care
Type of Evidence
Response Approach
Early Intervention
Family Support
Peer-reviewed Article

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

SFP 10-14 has been scientifically evaluated in a randomized, controlled test with families of sixth graders through Project Family at the Partnerships for Prevention Science Institute at Iowa State University.

This large-scale, experimental design trial (Spoth et al., 2013) involved random assignment of 33 Iowa public schools. Outcome evaluations entailed the use of multi-informant, multi-method measurement procedures at pretest, posttest, and follow-up data collections completed approximately one half, one and one half, two and one half, four, and six years after pretest. Findings include:

  • Youth attending the program had significantly lower rates of substance use compared to control youth.
  • The differences between program and control youth actually increased over time, indicating that skills learned and strong parent-child relationships continue to have greater and greater influence.
  • Youth attending the program had significantly fewer conduct problems in school than youth in the control group.
  • Parents showed gains in specific parenting skills including setting appropriate limits and building a positive relationship with their youth.