Strengthening Families Program

Strengthening Families is a nationally and internationally recognized parenting and family strengthening program for both high-risk and general population families. SFP is an evidence-based family skills training program found to:

• Significantly improve parenting skills and family relationships

• Reduce problem behaviors, delinquency, and substance abuse in children

• Improve social competencies and school performance

• Decrease child maltreatment through strengthened bonds between parent and child, and more effective parenting skills

• Trainers are provided with a DVD containing ten 30-minute SFP lessons and printable handouts.

See the Frequently-Asked Questions (below) for more details on SFP and how your church can get started.

Basics:

Three volunteers will participate in a two-day training to learn how to deliver the program to parents and caregivers. This training is made available at no cost to participants (see above). Upon completion, the trained volunteers (at least two per session) will facilitate 11 or 12 sessions targeting caregivers of children 7-17 years of age in the community. Each session generally lasts an hour and a half, although there is some flexibility.

Necessary components to participate:

1. A Healthy Congregations team. Not already participating? You can become eligible by signing up as a UM Healthy Congregation church.
For more information about Healthy Congregations and becoming part of this program, see the Healthy Congregations page.

2. Three volunteers to complete training and deliver the program
A team of three volunteers from your church and community to participate in the training – with at least two able to be present for each session. No specific background is required, but a significant time commitment is required so having someone who can tie this initiative into their work can be especially beneficial.

If your community is large enough, consider training two teams of three; likewise if your church and community are quite small, consider partnering with a nearby community to form a team.

Frequently Asked Questions

Children ages 7-17 years

As long as all of the material is covered, the program offers flexibility in session length. Generally, 11 to 12 sessions each lasting an hour and a half will complete the curriculum.

A variety of formats have been successful. It is possible to run the program as a family Sunday school program, for example. In that case, sessions would need to be kept to one hour (or less). Another church has implemented the program on weeknights as an alternative to traditional Bible study. Others have offered the program on weeknights at community centers as an outreach.

Yes - many who use this program do provide meals as a way to help families attend.

Handouts and materials for participants are provided in printable format on the DVD. Copies could be printed by the church or other community supporter; costs should not be significant.

The easiest way to implement the program is to play a segment of the DVD for the group (with discussion leaders following a very detailed script). The script will provide information about when to pause the DVD, what to say to the group, and will provide tips on how to respond to typical statements/questions from participants. The discussion leader training will cover this and will include time to practice running sessions and watch other trainees run sessions.

This would be comparable to that of a conscientious Sunday School teacher who takes time to prepare for each lesson.

This is a parent coaching class and it is designed for children to attend with their primary caregivers - in cases where the primary caregivers are grandparents it makes sense for them to be in the class.

It can be led by clergy - it can also be led by laity or others in your community who are part of the team. This may be a great opportunity for outreach.

© United Methodist Health Ministry Fund