Program Descriptions

The Strengthening Families Program is a 14-session, evidence-based parenting skills, children’s social skills, and family life skills training program specifically designed for high-risk families. Parents and children participate in SFP, both separately and together. Group Leader Manuals contain a complete lesson for every session. Parents’ and children’s Handouts are also provided for every session.

For detailed tables of contents of SFP3-5, SFP6-11 and SFP12-16 group leader manuals, click here.

Ages of Children:

  • Pre-school children, SFP 3-5 years, higher risk: SFP3-5 parallels SFP6-11 and can easily be delivered at the same time with two more group leaders.
  • Elementary school children, SFP 6-11 years, higher risk: Use the Group Leader Manual, available in English and Spanish.
  • Early Teens and High School, SFP 12-16, higher risk: Use SFP12-16, English or Spanish.
  • SFP7-17 Group Class Curriculum for ages 7-17 has lessons for Parents, Teens, and Children classes plus a joint Family Practice class and includes video vignettes of key SFP skills. It can be presented in 10 to 14 weekly sessions (depending on family risk factors). View the detailed table of contents for SFP7-17 here.
  • SFP7-17 Home-Use DVD: Teaches the SFP parent and youth skills in English or Spanish for parents and youth ages 7-17 to watch together. With 11 lessons, it can also be used as a review for SFP7-17 Group Classes, or can be presented to groups of families in schools, churches or clinics by a trained facilitator using a SFP-DVD Discussion Guide.

Note: Iowa SFP10-14, for a low risk/universal population ages 10-14 (Molgaard and Kumpfer, 1994) course materials and training are available through Iowa State University.

Note: SFP3-5, 6-11 and 12-16 course materials are sold as master sets on CD with site-limited license to copy course materials as needed for use by purchasing agency.

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP6-11, SFP3-5, SFP12-16) is an evidence-based prevention program for parents and children ages 3-5, 6-11 and 12-16 in higher risk families. SFP consists of parenting skills, children’s life skills, and family skills training courses taught together in fourteen 2-hours group sessions preceded by a meal that includes informal family practice time and group leader coaching. SFP was designed in 14 sessions to assure sufficient dosage to promote behavior change in high risk families.


 SFP has been evaluated many times by independent researchers in randomized control trials or health services research with very positive results in reducing substance abuse and delinquency risk factors by improving family relationships. Hence, SFP is rated at the top of the list by international and national review groups including the prestigious World Health Organization, Cochrane Collaboration Reviews in Oxford, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, White House, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsor of the original SFP research, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). SFP is now being tested for the prevention of child abuse as an evidence-based program on Administration for Children and Families (ACF) grants to several states and tribes.

Outcomes include increased family strengths and resilience and reduced risk factors for problem behaviors in high risk children, including behavioral problems, emotional, academic and social problems. SFP is now widely used also as a universal primary prevention intervention in schools, churches, and communities offering SFP-16 for all families, and hoping thereby to attract more high risk families. SFP builds on protective factors by improving family relationships, parenting skills, and improving the youth’s social and life skills.

Settings Where SFP is Implemented

Over nearly thirty years SFP6-11 has been implemented in schools, drug treatment centers, family and youth service agencies, child protection and foster care agencies, community mental health centers, housing projects, homeless shelters, churches, and drug courts, family courts, juvenile courts, and prisons.

Program Contents

SFP sessions include all the critical core components of effective evidence-based parenting programs (CDC, 2008) including: parent and child practice time in the family sessions learning positive interactions, communication, and effective discipline.

The parenting sessions review appropriate developmental expectations, teach parents to interact positively with children (such as showing enthusiasm and attention for good behavior and letting the child take the lead in play activities, increasing attention and praise for positive children’s behaviors, positive family communication including active listening and reducing criticism and sarcasm, family meetings to improve order and organization, and effective and consistent and effective discipline including reasonable and logical consequences and time-outs.

The children’s skills training content includes communication skills to improve parents, peers, and teacher relationships, hopes and dreams, resilience skills, problems solving, peer resistance, feeling identification, dealing with criticism, anger management and coping skills.

The family sessions allow the parents and children to practice what they learned in their individual sessions in experiential exercises. This is also a time for the group leaders to coach and encourage family members for improvements in parent/child interactions. The major skills to learn are: Child’s Game or, for Teens, Our Time, similar to therapeutic child play where the parent allows the child to determine the play activity, complimenting the good, effective communication, Family Meetings, making family rules, and Positive Discipline. SFP also includes group practice in problem solving and anger management. Home practice assignments of these skills improve generalization of new behaviors at home.

Cultural Adapations and International Dissemination of SFP

SFP fully meets all US federal agencies’ standards for evidence-based prevention programs and is in over 35 countries. SFP is culturally sensitive rather than culturally specific, but has also been successfully adapted for African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic, and American Indian families, and has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Austrian, Slovenian, Italian, French, Thai, and Chinese. A cultural adaptation protocol has been developed and published. See Publications (Kumpfer, Pinyuchon, de Melo, & Whiteside, 2008; Kumpfer, Xie, & Magalhães 2012; Kumpfer, Magalhães & Ahearn Greene, 2015).

SFP for Diverse Ethnic Populations

Culturally specific or culturally sensitive? In the 1990s African-American and First Nations culturally-specific adaptations of SFP produced results no better than the core version of SFP, but both made recruitment and retention of families much easier. Similar results were found for other culturally specific adaptations (International Journal of Addictions, Journal of Substance Use and Abuse, Aktan, Kumpfer, and Turner). Unfortunately, federal funding to update these and other culturally specific adaptations to match revisions in 2000 and 2006 of the core SFP6-11 has not been available and none of these adaptations is now available or recommended.

Multicultural and culturally sensitive: In response, in 2000 the core SFP6-11 course materials were extensively revised to be both multicultural and culturally sensitive, a pattern replicated in SFP3-5 and SFP12-16. All SFP group leader trainings stress the necessity in implementation of adapting to the needs and culture of participating families. Both culturally sensitive and culturally specific versions of the SFP6-11 curriculum have been found extremely successful with African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and First Nations families. Multiple European implementations of translated and culturally specific versions have met similar success.

SFP in Spanish: Fresh Spanish translations in 2010 of SFP6-11 and SFP12-16 manuals and handouts are available for purchase using the order form on this site. The new SFP7-17 Home-Use DVD has Spanish and English audio tracks. The Class video clips that go with the group class curriculum are also in both Spanish and English.

Asian and Pacific Islander Families: Also on a CSAP Grant, the Coalition for Drug-free Hawaii Developed the Strengthening Hawaii’s Families Program. This program is substantially modified and includes 10 sessions of family values followed by 10 sessions of the original SFP modified to be more culturally specific. The outcome results, however, were actually somewhat better for the standard 14-session SFP than for the more culturally specific SFP Hawaiian version (Kameoke). These curriculum manuals can be purchased through the Coalition for Drug-free Hawaii. For information on the Strengthening Hawaii Families Program see