Please take our brief survey

Blueprints Programs = Positive Youth Development

Return to Search Results

Promising Program Seal

Strengthening Families 10-14

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A group parenting and youth skills program that aims to promote good parenting skills and positive family relationships; reduce aggressive, hostile behavior, and substance abuse in adolescence; and improve family relationships through weekly parent effectiveness training and child skills-building, followed by a family session.

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Antisocial-aggressive Behavior
  • Close Relationships with Parents
  • Illicit Drug Use
  • Internalizing
  • Tobacco

Program Type

  • Alcohol Prevention and Treatment
  • Drug Prevention/Treatment
  • Family Therapy
  • Parent Training
  • Skills Training

Program Setting

  • Community (e.g., religious, recreation)
  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)
  • Selective Prevention (Elevated Risk)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary
  • Early Adolescence (12-14) - Middle School


  • Male and Female


  • All Race/Ethnicity


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 2.8-3.3

Program Information Contact

Cathy Hockaday, Ph.D.
Iowa State University
1087 Lebaron Hall
Ames, IA 50011-4380
Phone: (515) 294-7601
Fax: (515) 294-5507

Program Developer/Owner

  • Virginia Molgaard, Ph.D.
  • Iowa State University

Brief Description of the Program

Strengthening Families 10-14 is a seven-session program for families with young adolescents that aims to enhance family protective and resiliency processes and reduce family risk related to adolescent substance abuse and other problem behaviors. The weekly, two-hour sessions include separate parent and child skills-building followed by a family session where parents and children practice the skills they have learned independently, work on conflict resolution and communication, and engage in activities to increase family cohesiveness and positive involvement of the child in the family. Parents are taught how to clarify expectations based on child development norms of adolescent substance use, using appropriate disciplinary practices, managing strong emotions regarding their children, and using effective communication. Children are taught refusal skills for dealing with peer pressure and other personal and social interactional skills. These sessions are led by three-person teams and include an average of eight families per session.

See: Full Description


In the original evaluation of the Iowa Strengthening Families program, the intervention, relative to a control group, showed the following significant findings:

  • Lower rates of initiation in each of the three alcohol ever-use measures at the one-, two-, and four-year follow-ups.
  • Lower transitions to substance use at the two-year follow-up.
  • Lower proportion reporting initiation of each of the five substance use behaviors (use of alcohol, alcohol without parental permission, drunkenness, cigarettes, and marijuana) at the four-year follow-up (10th grade).
  • Lower frequency and proportion reporting past month alcohol use and past month cigarette use in 10th grade.
  • Lower composite index for both alcohol and tobacco at 10th grade.
  • Lower scores for observer ratings and adolescent report of aggressive and hostile behaviors in the 10th grade.
  • Slower overall growth in lifetime use of alcohol, lifetime cigarette use, and lifetime use of marijuana at the six-year follow-up (Grade 12).
  • Delayed growth rates for initiation of alcohol use without parental permission, drunkenness, cigarette use, and the Alcohol Use Composite Index shown by Grade 12.
  • By 12th grade, fewer youth scored at or above borderline range of the CBCL-YSR anxious/depressed index.
  • Slower rate of increase in polysubstance use over time (6th to 12th grade), significantly more for girls than for boys, although overall levels of use were lower in the intervention group for both genders.
  • At the 12th grade follow-up, less methamphetamine use, although the total number of adolescents reporting methamphetamine use in the past 12 months was extremely small.
  • In young adulthood, lower rates of drunkenness frequency and on a polysubstance use index.
  • In young adulthood, lower self-reported lifetime Sexually Transmitted Diseases and substance use during sex.

Significant Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Improvements in intervention-targeted parenting behaviors, which, in turn, had significant effects on both parent-child affective quality and general child management at both posttest and one year following post-test.
  • Perception of family supervision (Riesch et al., 2012)

In three independent replications:

  • Baldus et al. (2016) found no significant differences between conditions when using the complete intent-to-treat sample with multiple imputation estimates for missing data.
  • Foxcroft et al. (2016) found no significant effects on behavioral outcomes or risk and protective factors.
  • Riesch et al. (2012) found no significant effects on behavioral outcomes.

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

The program was originally implemented with a predominantly rural, Caucasian sample (98.6%). Overall levels of substance use were lower for both boys and girls in intervention relative to controls, as well as a lower rate of internalizing.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Early initiation of drug use*, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards drug use
  • Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers
  • Family: Family conflict/violence, Neglectful parenting, Parental attitudes favorable to drug use, Poor family management*
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Refusal skills, Skills for social interaction
  • Family: Attachment to parents*, Non-violent discipline*, Opportunities for prosocial involvement with parents*, Parent social support, Rewards for prosocial involvement with parents

*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

See also: Strengthening Families 10-14 Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

SFP 10-14 Facilitator Training Basics

Professional training by Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP 10-14) Master Trainers are required in order to be certified to teach SFP 10-14. Training helps ensure program fidelity, making it more likely that there will be positive outcomes for youth and parents. Groups of at least three facilitators per program site must receive training. One facilitator teaches the parent group; two facilitators teach the youth group, and all three facilitators work with families in the family session. Facilitators for SFP 10-14 should have strong presentation and facilitation skills and experience working with parents or youth. It is highly suggested to have more than three facilitators trained as substitutes, recruiters and logistical site coordinators.

Facilitators learn about the background, evaluation, goals, and content of the program and take part in session activities. Training also includes information on practical considerations for implementing SFP 10-14, such as recruiting families and handling challenging parents and youth during program sessions. Onsite trainings by a team of Master Trainers can be scheduled.

SFP 10-14 Facilitator Training Specifics

The training takes place over three days and includes information on program background, evaluation results, risk and protective factors, program philosophy, and use of the retrospective pre-post test for parents and youth. Participants take part in curriculum activities so they are well-prepared to teach the program. The three-day format allows time for group discussion and question and answer periods.

Typically each day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m. Training generally occurs Monday – Friday, but consideration can be made for a long weekend training. Morning and afternoon breaks, as well as a lunch break, allow for a relatively relaxed schedule. The schedule allows time for a detailed discussion of recruitment and retention, as well as logistical details and options for providing child care, transportation, food and incentives.

Training Certification Process

  1. Proof that facilitator was a lead facilitator for a MINIMUM of 7 weeks as a youth facilitator, 7 weeks as a parent facilitator, and 7 weeks as an active family facilitator.
  2. Provide family evaluations (satisfaction surveys of program) for when the facilitator was a lead facilitator.
  3. Provide pre-posttest surveys (or other comparable survey results) for when facilitator was a lead facilitator to demonstrate facilitator’s ability to change behavior in family members.
  4. Complete one of the following observational requirements: (a) Master trainer watches facilitator in action during a 2 hour session where they are a lead facilitator, or (b) Video sessions (1 parent session, 1 youth session, 1 family session) and send to ISU for evaluation.
  5. If the facilitator completes all the requirements above and is considered acceptable for student teaching, the facilitator will be invited to student teach with a Master Trainer at a facilitator training. An additional 6-8 hours of training on components of being an agency trainer will be required during the facilitator training. This generally takes place at the beginning and end of each of the 3 days of facilitator training. The facilitator training usually occurs onsite at the agency requesting the agency trainer’s training. On occasion the agency trainers will be allowed to join a training in Iowa or other designated state to complete their student teaching component.
  6. If approved as an agency trainer at this point, the new trainer will be allowed to ONLY train for their agency that is specified on their certificate. They will sign an agreement stating that they understand the limitations of their certification and that it can be revoked at any time and the agency will be contacted if the agency trainer abuses their privileges. If not approved as an agency trainer, the agency trainer will be on provisional status and will work closely with the SFP 10-14 program coordinator at Iowa State University until full certification is possible.

Note: These requirements may be changed at any time by ISU without notice.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The Strengthening Families 10-14 Program (formerly Iowa Strengthening Families) has been evaluated in a randomized, controlled test with 442 families. This large-scale trial, including long-term follow-up evaluations, was conducted in Iowa public schools. In addition to a six-month post-test, follow-up data collections were completed approximately 18, 30, 48, and 72 months following the pretest, when students were in the 7th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. An additional follow-up was completed by telephone when the participants were approximately 21 years of age. The experimental design entailed random assignment of 33 schools. Outcome evaluations included the use of multi-informant, multi-method measurement procedures at pre-test, post-test, and follow-up data collection points.

Additional replications occurred in Germany and Poland. The replication in Germany consisted of a randomized controlled trial that included low socioeconomic districts across four cities. The replication in Poland was a cluster randomized controlled trial that included twenty communities with varying demographics. Another replication was implemented for fifth-graders in Madison, Wisconsin and Indianapolis (Riesch et al., 2012) in which 16 schools were randomly assigned to intervention or control conditions and the family environment was assessed at baseline, immediately post-intervention, and six months post-intervention.


Coombes, L. Allen, D. & Foxcroft, D. (2012). An exploratory pilot study of the Strengthening Families programme 10-14 (UK). Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 19(5), 387-396.

Guyll, M., Spoth, R. L., Chao, W., Wicrama, K. A. S., & Russell, D. (2004). Family-focused preventive interventions: evaluating parental risk moderation of substance use trajectories. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 293-301.

Harrison, R. S., Boyle, S. W., & Farley, O. W. (1999). Evaluating the outcomes of family-based intervention for troubled children: a pretest-posttest study. Research on Social Work Practice, 6, 640-655.

Redmond, C., Spoth, R., Shin, C., & Lepper H. (1999). Modeling long-term parent outcomes of two universal family-focused preventive interventions: One-year follow-up results. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67(6),975-984.

Spoth, R. L., Clair, S., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2006). Long-term effects of universal preventive interventions on methamphetamine use among adolescents. Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 160, 876-882.

Spoth, R., Clair, S., & Trudeau, L. (2014). Universal family-focused intervention with young adolescents: Effects on health-risking sexual behaviors and STDs among young adults. Prevention Science 15(Suppl 1), S47-S58.

Spoth, R. L., Guyll, M., & Day, S. X. (2002). Universal family-focused interventions in alcohol-use disorder prevention: Cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analyses of two interventions. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 63, 219-228.

Spoth, R., Guyll, M., Trudeau, L., & Goldberg-Lilehoj, C. (2002) Two studies of proximal outcomes and implementation quality of universal preventive interventions in a community-university collaboration context. Journal of Community Psychology, 30, 499-518.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C. & Shin, C. (1998). Direct and indirect latent-variable parenting outcomes of two universal family-focused preventive interventions: Extending a public health-oriented research base. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 66, 385-399.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C. & Lepper, H. (1999). Alcohol initiation outcomes of universal family-focused preventive interventions: One- and two-year follow-ups of a controlled study. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 13, 103-111.

Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C. & Shin, C. (2001). Randomized trial of brief family interventions for general populations: adolescent substance use outcomes 4 years following baseline. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 627-642.

Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., & Shin, C. (2000). Reducing adolescents' aggressive and hostile behaviors. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 154, 1248-1257.

Spoth, R., Redmond, C., Shin, C. & Azevedo, K. (2004). Brief family intervention effects on adolescent substance initiation: school-level growth curve analysis 6 years following baseline. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 535-542.

Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., Trudeau, L. & Shin, C.(2002). Longitudinal substance initiation outcomes for a universal preventive intervention combining family and school programs. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2, 129-134.

Spoth, R., Reyes, M. L., Redmond, C. & Shin, C. (1999). Assessing a public health approach to delay onset and progression of adolescent substance use: Latent transition and loglinear analyses of longitudinal family preventive intervention outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 619-630.

Spoth, R. L., Trudeau, L., Guyll, M., Shin, C., & Redmond, C. (2009). Universal intervention effects on substance use among young adults mediated by delayed adolescent substance initiation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 77(4),620-632.

Trudeau, L., Spoth, R., Randall, G. K., & Azevedo, K. (2007). Longitudinal effects of a universal family-focused intervention on growth patterns of adolescent internalizing symptoms and polysubstance use: Gender comparisons. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 725-740.