Implementing the Strengthening Families Program involves the following activities:
1. Hiring and training at least four effective group leaders, two to run the children's' groups and two for the parent's groups, and a program or site coordinator.
2. Recruiting families by stressing improvements in family relationships, parenting skills, and youth's behaviors and grades.
3. Using creative recruitment and retention strategies matched to the needs of participating families, such as special incentives, family meals, transportation, and child care.
4. Implementing the full Strengthening Families Program once per week for 14 weeks or in alternative formats, such as twice per week or at retreat weekends.
5. Eating meals together as a family, attending separate parent training classes and children's skills training classes. Then, in the second hour, participating in structured family activities including practice sessions in therapeutic child-play, family meetings, communication skills, effective discipline, reinforcing positive behavior and planning fun family activities together.
6. Conducting a needs assessment and evaluating the program using standardized family, parent, and child outcome measures and using the outcome and process measures for continuous quality improvement.
The SFP curriculum is a 14-session behavioral skills training program of 2 hours each. Parents meet separately with two group leaders for an hour to learn to increase desired behaviors in children by increasing attention and rewards for positive behaviors.
They also learn about clear communication, effective discipline, substance use, problem solving, and limit setting. Children meet separately with two children's trainers for an hour, to learn how to understand feelings, control their anger, resist peer pressure, comply with parental rules, solve problems, and communicate effectively. Children also develop their social skills and learn about the consequences of substance abuse.
During the second hour of the session, families engage in structured family activities, practice therapeutic child play, conduct family meetings, learn communication skills, practice effective discipline, reinforce positive behaviors in each other, and plan family activities. Booster sessions and ongoing family support groups for SFP graduates increase generalization and the use of skills learned.