Schools And Families Educating Children (SAFEChildren) is a family-focused preventive intervention designed to increase academic achievement and decrease risk for later drug abuse and associated problems such as aggression, school failure, and low social competence. Initially targeting first-grade children and their families living in inner-city Chicago neighborhoods, SAFEChildren has two components. The first component is a multiple-family group approach that focuses on parenting skills, family relationships, understanding and managing developmental and situational challenges, increasing parental support, skills and issues in engaging as a parent with the school, and managing issues such as neighborhood problems (e.g., violence). Families participate in 20 weekly sessions (2 to 2.5 hours each) led by a trained, professional family group leader. The second component is a reading tutoring program for the child. Each tutoring session involves segments on phonics, sound and word activities, and reading books. Tutoring is provided twice weekly (one 30-minute and one 20-minute session) over 20 weeks, using a modified version of the Wallach program. The program serves both genders and Black and Hispanic/Latino children.
Children who received the intervention improved in overall reading ability at a more rapid rate than did those who did not receive the intervention. Among families designated as high-risk, there was a significantly greater improvement in parental monitoring for those who received the SAFEChildren intervention than for those who did not receive the intervention. Among high-risk children (having high levels of problem behaviors at pretest), SAFEChildren participants showed a decrease in aggression, whereas those who did not receive the intervention had a slight increase in aggression.
National Registry of Effective Programs and Practices: Effective program
National Gang Center: Effective program
National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, Clemson University: Effective program
SAMHSA’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (2016): Effective program
Patrick H. Tolan Ph.D.
Director, Youth-Nex | The UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development
Professor, Curry School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences
One Morton Drive, Room 300-12
Charlottesville, VA 22903
Phone: (434) 243-9551
Web site: http://curry.virginia.edu/academics/directory/patrick-h.-tolan
Gorman-Smith, D., Tolan, P. H., Henry, D. B., Leventhal, A., Schoeny, M., Lutovsky, K., and Quintana, E. (2002). Predictors of participation in a family-focused preventive intervention for substance use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 16(Suppl. 4), S55–S64.
Tolan, P., Gorman-Smith, D., and Henry, D. (2004). Supporting families in a high-risk setting: Proximal effects of the SAFEChildren preventive intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72, 855–869.