The Strengthening Families Program™ is a critical component to the Strengthening Families initiative in Saskatoon.
The Strengthening Families Program™ has been evaluated and has demonstrated it’s ability to reduce the following risk factors:
- Family history of problem behaviour or parent criminality;
- Family management problems, poor parental supervision and or monitoring;
- Pattern of family conflict;
- Poor family attachment or bonding;
- Parental use of physical punishment/harsh or inconsistent discipline practices;
- Anti-social behaviour and alienation, delinquent beliefs/general delinquency and involvement/drug trafficking;
- Favourable attitudes toward drug use/early onset of alcohol and/or drug use;
- Early onset of aggression and/or violence; and,
- Poor refusal skills.
The Strengthening Families Program™ is designed to run in 14-week cycles. The one-evening-per-week Program consists of separate sessions for the children (6-11), youth (12-17), and parents (guardians/caregivers). It includes a family practice time where the parents and children rehearse the techniques learned. Trained facilitators are hired to engage families in the SFP 14-week training cycles. Follow-up is also provided to families who complete the Strengthening Families Program™.
The Coordinator of Strengthening Families Saskatoon oversees and supports the family sessions while assisting the families through a case management lens while working alongside existing supports. The Coordinator works closely with an assigned Constable from the Saskatoon Police Service in order to meet determined goals.
The overall goal of the SFP is to increase family strengths and resilience and reduce risk factors for problem behaviours in high risk children/youth, including behavioural problems, and emotional, academic and social difficulties.
Other significant goals are to:
- Reduce youths’ behavioural problems (violence, delinquency, aggression, etc.);
- Decrease the use and temptation to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco;
- Enhance children’s social skills;
- Improve parenting skills; and,
- Increase family cohesion, communication and organization.
Evaluative studies using the SFP have shown the following:
- Significant reductions in tobacco, alcohol, and drug initiation and use among the older children of drug abusers and in initiation and drug use among the parents;
- Decreased use and intention to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs;
- Better and stronger protective factors in youths, in particular social and life skills, resistance to peer pressure and improved communication;
- Better parent-child relationship and family cohesion, communication and organization;
- Improved parenting skills concerning, for example, parental supervision, effective consequences rather than extreme punishments, greater consistency including family customs, and closer bonds between parents and their children;
- Fewer youth behavioural problems (e.g., substance abuse, behaviour disorders, aggression, violence and juvenile delinquency) and emotional problems (e.g., depression and psychosomatic disorders); and,
- A decrease in child abuse, as parents learn to form strong bonds with their children and develop positive parenting skills.