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Promising Program Seal

Strong African American Families Program

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

An interactive educational program designed to to reduce adolescent substance use, conduct problems, and sexual involvement among African American parents and their early adolescent children though separate weekly parent and child skills-building followed by a family session .

Program Outcomes

  • Alcohol
  • Close Relationships with Parents
  • Delinquency and Criminal Behavior
  • Truancy - School Attendance

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)


  • Late Childhood (5-11) - K/Elementary


  • Male and Female


  • African American


  • Blueprints: Promising
  • Crime Solutions: Effective
  • OJJDP Model Programs: Effective
  • SAMHSA: 3.6-3.8

Program Information Contact

Tracy N. Anderson
Assistant Director
Center for Family Research
University of Georgia
1095 College Station Road
Athens, GA 30602-4527
Phone: (706) 425-2992

Program Developer/Owner

  • Gene H. Brody, Ph.D.
  • University of Georgia

Brief Description of the Program

The Strong African American Families (SAAF) program is a 7-week interactive educational program for African American parents and their early adolescent children, age 11. The intervention program is based on an empirical model of the processes linked to psychological adjustment, substance use and high-risk behavior in rural African American youth. Early adolescence is the period in which children gain increasing control over their behavior, begin forming friendships based on similarities and common interests, and develop attitudes toward substances and substance use. The attitudes and behaviors that they develop during this time influence their achievement motivation, academic performance and friendship selections, which in turn lead them toward or away from substance use. The SAAF program is designed to strengthen positive family interactions and to enhance parents’ efforts to help their children establish and reach positive goals during this critical transition between childhood and adolescence.

See: Full Description


Study 1

Compared to control group students, SAAF students reported:

  • Fewer conduct problems (theft, truancy, suspension) across the 29 months between the pre-test and the long-term follow-up.
  • Significantly lower new alcohol user proportions at both the post-test and through the 29 month follow-up.
  • Significantly slower rate of increase in alcohol use through the 65 month follow-up.

Significant Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Greater positive changes in regulated, communicative parenting (involved-vigilant parenting, racial socialization, communication about sex, and establishment of clear parental expectations).
  • Greater positive changes in all youth protective factors (negative attitudes about alcohol and sex, goal-directed future orientation, resistance efficacy, acceptance of parental influence and negative images of drinkers).

Study 2 (Futris & Kogan 2014; Kogan et al. 2016)

Significant Program Effects on Risk and Protective Factors:

  • Youth risk behavior vulnerability
  • Youth self-regulatory processes
  • Positive parenting

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

This program was developed for use among rural African American families.

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors
  • Individual: Early initiation of drug use, Favorable attitudes towards antisocial behavior, Favorable attitudes towards drug use*, Substance use
  • Peer: Interaction with antisocial peers, Peer substance use
  • Family: Family conflict/violence, Low socioeconomic status, Parent stress, Parental attitudes favorable to antisocial behavior, Parental attitudes favorable to drug use, Poor family management*
  • School: Low school commitment and attachment
  • Neighborhood/Community: Community disorganization, Extreme economic disadvantage, Laws and norms favorable to drug use/crime, Perceived availability of drugs
Protective Factors
  • Individual: Clear standards for behavior*, Perceived risk of drug use, Problem solving skills, Prosocial behavior, Prosocial involvement, Refusal skills*
  • Family: Attachment to parents*, Opportunities for prosocial involvement with parents, Parent social support, Parental involvement in education

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

See also: Strong African American Families Program Logic Model (PDF)

Training and Technical Assistance

Training for the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program includes three full days of in-depth training on the SAAF curriculum. During the three-day period, facilitators are trained on the 21 hours of program content via curriculum review, role plays and open discussion regarding the applicability of program content to the local community. The third day of training requires that training participants present an assigned segment of the curriculum to the group as though implementing those activities with families. Facilitators must complete the full three-day training, in order to become a Certified SAAF Facilitator. Technical assistance is available during all phases of program adoption (e.g., organizing the training) and implementation (e.g., recruitment, evaluation) to ensure program success.

Training Certification Process

The SAAF Agency Trainer certification process involves an individual’s transition from Certified SAAF Facilitator to Certified Agency Trainer. The Certified Agency Trainer is limited to providing the SAAF training to individuals within their own agency/organization to implement SAAF through their organization. The cost associated with this training is $1,500 for the first person and $500 for each additional person.

To be eligible to go through this process, the Certified SAAF Facilitator must have implemented the full 7-week program at least 2 times as a parent/caregiver facilitator and 2 times as a youth facilitator.

Contact the CFR Dissemination Office for additional information regarding the TOT process and requirements.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The first study was a cluster randomized prevention trial which included assignment of families to a treatment or control group. Participants (African American mothers and their 11-year-old children) were recruited from nine rural counties in Georgia. Of the nine counties, two were small and contiguous; these counties were combined into a single population unit, yielding a total of eight county-units. The eight county-units were then randomly assigned to either the control or intervention conditions, resulting in the assignment of four county-units to each condition. Schools in these units provided lists of 11-year-old students, from which 521 families were selected randomly. Of these families, 332 completed pretests. The final sample included 150 families in the control counties and 172 families in the intervention counties. The intervention group began the 7-week prevention sessions and the control (during the same 7-week period that the intervention families participated in the prevention sessions) families received three leaflets via postal mail. One described various aspects of development in early adolescence, another dealt with stress management, and the third provided suggestions for encouraging children to exercise. Families in both groups complete a pre-test one month before the SAAF program begins, a post-test three months after the sessions end, and a long-term follow-up (completed by youths only), thus producing a 7-month interval between pre- and post-test and a 29-month interval between the pre-test and the long-term follow-up.

Study 2 (Futris & Kogan 2014; Kogan et al. 2016) was a randomized control trial with recruitment taking place in 8 rural, impoverished Georgia counties over a 5 year span. Participants (n=465) were African American children in 5th and 6th grade and their parents. Participant families were randomly assigned to the intervention group (n=242) or a waitlist control group (n=223) that gained access to the program after 12 months. Assessments occurred at baseline and at posttest, 3 months after program completion.

Peer Implementation Sites

Western Tidewater Community Services Board
5268 Godwin Blvd.
Suffolk, VA 23434
Contact: Brandon Rodgers

Amachi Pittsburgh
100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 621
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412)281-1288, ext. 208
Contact: Fred Hill

Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families
801 University Avenue, Unit 3
Des Moines, IA 50314
Contact: Jonathan R. Douglas, PhD


Brody, G., Kogan, S., Chen, Y., & McBride-Murry, V. (2008). Long-term effects of the Strong African American Families program on youths' conduct problems. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 474-481.

Brody, G., McBride-Murry, V., Gerrard, G., Gibbons, F., Molgaard, V., McNair, L., ... Neubaum-Carlan, E. (2004) The Strong African American Families Program: Translating research into prevention programming, Child Development, 75(3), 900-917.

Brody, G. H., Murry, V. M., Kogan, S. M., Brown, A. C., Anderson, T., Chen, Y., ... Wills, T. A. (2006). The Strong African American Families Program: A cluster-randomized prevention trial of long-term effects and a mediational model. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 356-366.

Brody, G. H., Murry, V. M., Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., McNair, L., Brown, A. C., ... Chen, Y. (2006). The Strong African American Families Program: Prevention of youths' high-risk behavior and a test of model change. Journal of Family Psychology, 20, 1-11.

Gerrard, M., Gibbons, F. X., Brody, G. H., Murry, V. M., Cleveland, M. J., & Wills, T. A. (2006). A theory-based dual-focus alcohol intervention for preadolescents: The Strong African American Families Program. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 20, 185-195.

Murry, V. M., Berkel, C., Brody, G. H., Gibbons, M., & Gibbons, F. X. (2007). The Strong African American Families program: Longitudinal pathways to sexual risk reduction. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 333-342.