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Promising Program Seal

Strong African American Families Program

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

A 7-week interactive educational program for African American parents and their early adolescent children that includes separate weekly parent and child skills-building followed by a family session to reduce adolescent substance use, conduct problems, and sexual involvement.

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

Christina M. Grange
Dissemination Specialist
Center for Family Research
University of Georgia
1095 College Station Road
Athens, GA 30602-4527

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. 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


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).

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 24 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 Training process involves an individual’s transition from facilitator to trainer. After a SAAF facilitator has implemented with a SAAF three-person implementation team at least six times, he/she is eligible to participate in the Training-of-Trainer (TOT) process. The cost for participating in a TOT is $3,225, plus the cost of travel to a three-day Training-of-Facilitators (TOF). This price includes a site visit conducted by a master trainer to observe the new trainer as he/she implements their first TOF with their agency.

During this facilitator training, the Trainer in Training (TT) operates as part of the standard training team. Details regarding the TOT process are outlined below.

Steps for Becoming a SAAF Trainer:

Contact the UGA Center for Family Research Dissemination Office. Once aware of the interest, the Dissemination Office will inform the agency and potential Trainer in Training (TT) of upcoming TOFs. The TT is expected to participate in the TOF as the critical part of their TOT process. The TOT occurs at a designated TOF. The trainer in training (TT) operates as part of the training team during the TOF. This is a core component of the TOT. As part of the training team, the TT will participate in:

  • Conference calls that occur prior to the TOF in order to assign different curriculum components for the training, discuss the overall structure of the training, and review specific activities that will occur during the training.
  • Pre-training meeting that occurs the day before TOF Day #1. This is a face-to-face meeting to orient the TT to the materials, structure and general culture of SAAF TOFs. The meeting will also allow the TT to help set up and get oriented to the training venue prior to the training.
  • Debriefing meetings happen on each of the three training days. The TOT debriefing will provide constructive feedback that addresses TT strengths and areas for improvement in the training process. The TT is asked to provide feedback that can contribute to a better TOT and TOF.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The 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.

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
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.