The Strengthening Washington D.C. Families Project: Description and Process Evaluation

Karol Kumpfer, University of Utah
Denise C. Gottfredson, University of Maryland at College Park
Danielle M. Polizzi, University of Maryland at College Park
Veronica Puryear, University of Maryland at College Park
David B. Wilson, George Mason University
Penny Beatty, University of Maryland at College Park
Myriam Vilmenay, University of Maryland at College Park

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP; Kumpfer, DeMarsh, and Child, 1989) has been disseminated as an effective family-based program targeting several family and child risk factors for substance use. This program consists of fourteen hour-long sessions delivered to children aged 7-11, fourteen hour-long sessions delivered to the parents of these children, and fourteen hour-long family sessions during which the children and parents come together to practice their new skills. This paper reports on an ongoing randomized study of the effectiveness of for reducing substance use and its precursors among children from 800 primarily African American families residing in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. As of the writing of this paper, 443 families have been enrolled in the study by five different program sites in the D.C. area. An extensive process evaluation documents implementation barriers and successes. Recruitment and retention of these families in a research study present major challenges, as do fear of research, poverty, stress, high mobility and greater availability of alternative non-research parenting programs in the local areas. Thirty percent of the families who register for the program and are paid to complete the extensive pre-test never attend a single session, and those participating attend only 8 of the 14 sessions, on average. The program is being delivered with reasonable fidelity to the SFP program curriculum, however, and tests of SFP-related knowledge administered at the end of each session indicate that parents correctly answer most questions. This paper will report on efforts to recruit and retain subjects in the study. Implementation fidelity will also be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006