Background and History

The SFP 10-14 was the result of a major revision of the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) originally developed in 1983 by Kumpfer, DeMarsh, and Child (1989) as part of a 3-year prevention research project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The original SFP was designed to reduce vulnerability to drug abuse in 6- to 12-year-old children of methadone maintenance patients and substance-abusing outpatients. The curriculum included separate 1-hour sessions for parents and children followed by a family session. One session was scheduled per week, typically for 12 to 14 consecutive weeks. In a study design that compared sessions for parents only, youth only, and parents, youth, and families combined, the group that included a combination of sessions for parents, youth, and family showed the most promising results. The original SFP (Kumpfer, DeMarsh, and Child, 1989), recognized by NIDA as a research-based, family-focused prevention program, was tested extensively with high-risk ethnic families. The results of these studies mirror the generally positive findings of the original NIDA research results.

Competency TrainingIn 1992, the Social and Behavioral Research Center for Rural Health at Iowa State University (ISU) received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to test the SFP in a general population of rural families with young adolescent children. This grant, along with a similar grant from NIDA to test another prevention program, became a part of Project Family, a series of investigations on family-focused preventive interventions. The Project Family investigators, including Dr. Richard Spoth (principal investigator) and Dr. Karol Kumpfer (coprincipal investigator), agreed that the SFP needed substantial revision to meet the needs of a general population of families with young adolescents in a midwestern rural area. In part, this conclusion was based on the results of consumer research with families similar to those targeted by the NIMH study. Dr. Virginia Molgaard, a coprincipal investigator at ISU, worked with Dr. Kumpfer to revise the SFP. They developed a 7-week curriculum identical in format to the original program (i.e., the revised SFP also has separate sessions for parents and youth, plus sessions in which family units practice skills together).

This curriculum, the Iowa Strengthening Families Program (ISFP), was an early version of the SFP 10-14. The ISFP was tested through Project Family with 446 midwestern families who live in economically stressed areas. The participants in the study were from 22 rural school districts randomly assigned to intervention and control conditions. The positive findings yielded by the data analyzed in this study earned the program recognition by OJJDP's Strengthening America's Families Initiative1 and by two other Federal agencies: NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1997) and the U.S. Department of Education. Subsequently, the ISFP was revised to make it appropriate for ethnically diverse families and was renamed the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14. African American, Hispanic, and white families have participated in the program.




1 For additional information, see Kumpfer and Alvarado (1998), the introductory Bulletin in OJJDP's Family Strengthening Series.

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Competency Training
The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14
Juvenile Justice Bulletin August 2000