Providing information on parenting supports and services in Kildare and Wicklow

Strengthening Families Programme


The Strengthening Families Programme is a 14 session family skills training programme designed to increase resilience and reduce the risk factors for substance misuse, depression, violence and aggression, involvement in crime, and school failure in high risk, 13-17 year old children and their parents.

Positive results from over 15 independent research replications demonstrate that the programme is robust and effective in increasing assets and protective factors by improving family relationships, parenting skills, and improving youths social and life skills.

The SFP curriculum includes three courses (Parent skills training, Teen skills training and Family life skills training) taught in 14 two-hour periods. In the first hour, parents and children participate in separate classes; each class is led by 2 co-facilitators. Parents learn to increase desired behaviours in children by using attention and rewards, clear communication, effective discipline, substance use education, problem solving, and limit setting.

Children learn effective communication, understanding feelings, coping with criticism, stress management, social skills, problem solving, resisting peer pressure, consequences of substance use and compliance with parental rules. During the second hour families practice structuring family activities, family meetings, communication skills, effective discipline, reinforcing positive behaviours in each other, and jointly planning family activities.

Incentives for attendance, positive participation, home practice completion, and graduation are recommended. Family meals before each session, transportation, and child care all reduce barriers to participation. Booster sessions and parent run family support groups for Strengthening Families Programme graduates are encouraged.

The original SFP for high-risk families with children ages 6 to 11 years (SFP6-11) was joined in the early 1990