Schools and Families Educating Children (SAFE Children) is a partnership between the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago and eight Chicago public schools. The program emphasizes helping families manage child development in risky environments. It is based on the “developmental-ecological model,” which focuses on how characteristics of neighborhoods and schools affect children and family and determine how well a child does in school and later in life. The program aims to help with the transition to elementary school, make that first year successful, and set a firm base for the future. Families with children entering first grade and living in inner-city, high-crime neighborhoods are enrolled in a 22-week family program that emphasizes developing support networks among parents, parenting skills, and understanding schools and related child development issues. In addition, children are provided tutoring in reading to ensure mastery of basic reading skills in the first year of school. Results of outcome studies can be obtained by contacting Dr. Patrick Tolan.
An evaluation showed that 6 months after the intervention, the program increased academic performance and parental involvement in school. Among high-risk families in the program, it showed improvements in parental monitoring, child problem behaviors, and children’s social competence. In addition, the program reduced aggression among high-risk youths.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Effective program
National Gang Center and OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Effective program
Patrick Tolan, Ph.D.
Institute for Juvenile Research
Department of Psychiatry
The University of Illinois at Chicago
840 South Wood Street
Chicago, IL 60612-7347
Phone: (312) 413-1893
Tolan, P. H.; Gorman-Smith, D.; and Henry, D. B. (2003). “Supporting Families in a High-Risk Setting: Proximal Effects of the SAFE Children Prevention Program.” Chicago, IL: Institute for Juvenile Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Tolan, P. H.; Gorman-Smith, D.; and Henry, D. B. (2005). “Supporting Families in a High-Risk Setting: Proximal Effects of the SAFE Children Prevention Program.” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(5):855–69.
Tolan, P. H.; Szapocznik, J.; and Sambrano, S. (eds.). (2007). Preventing Youth Substance Abuse: Science-Based Programs for Children and Adolescents. American Psychological Association.