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Building mental health resilience, every encounter, every client

Strengthening Families Program

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Norkris is proud to now offer The Strengthening Families Program!

The Strengthening Families Program (SFP) is an evidence-based family skills training program for high-risk and general population families that is recognized both nationally and internationally. Parents and youth attend weekly SFP skills classes together, learning parenting skills and youth life and refusal skills.


SFP was originally developed in 1982 by Dr. Karol L. Kumpfer with the purpose to discover what skills parents needed to keep their kids from using alcohol and drugs.

SFP has been replicated by multiple agencies in the USA and Europe for the past 30 years with outstanding results. SFP is now taught in all 50 U.S. states and 36 other countries.

The SFP family relationship skills are useful for all families – not just those at risk.

Using documented evaluation tools, SFP skills-training proved to be effective in reducing multiple risk factors for later alcohol and drug abuse, mental health problems, and delinquency.  Participants reported:

  • Increased family bonding

  • Increased parental involvement

  • Increased positive parenting skills

  • Increase positive communication

  • Increased family organization

  • Decreased family conflict

  • Decreased youth depression

  • Decreased youth aggression

  • Increased youth cooperation

  • Increased number of prosocial friends

  • Increased youth social competencies

  • Increased youth school grades


SFP is effective because it was specifically crafted to increase protective factors and reduce the risk factors that lead to both substance abuse and youth depression.

SFP teaches–and has parents and youth practice–skills involved in bonding (creating warm, loving relationships), setting clear, firm boundaries (rules against antisocial behavior, including drug and alcohol use), and monitoring their children’s emotional well-being and activities to see that they always stay in an alcohol and drug-free social environment.  Skill practice creates new prosocial habit patterns in the brain, which helps improve behavior, strengthens the parent-child relationship, and helps a child feel loved. SFP thus produces micro-environmental changes in a young person’s life that make use of addictive substances very costly in terms of losing parental approval and also losing privileges.  Teen substance use thus decreases. Child maltreatment also decreases as parents learn better parenting skills, and practice stress and anger management techniques.

With a 30-year successful track record, SFP is rated at the top of the Evidence-Based Interventions list by most national and international review groups including:

  • SAMHSA Model Programs

  • NIDA Red Book (one of 10 programs)

  • OJJDP Strengthening America’s Families (1 of 7 replicated programs)

  • US Dept. of ED (one of 8 programs)

  • CSAP Model Program

  • World Health Org. EBP list 2006

  • Cochrane Collaboration – Oxford University (Foxcroft, et al., 2003)


The well-being of a nation depends on strong and loving families. They have the job of producing the next generation of emotionally healthy, responsible, educated citizens who are addiction-free and prepared to maintain the physical and social infrastructure of society. Research shows well-trained parents help youth avoid substance abuse and have better life outcomes:

“Strong families avoid many adverse outcomes: substance abuse, teen pregnancy, school failure, aggression, and delinquency.” (Hops, et al., 2001)

Children are a nation’s most valuable asset. They deserve to grow up in a stable, loving family with nurturing caregivers who protect them from abuse, help them become their best selves, and stay addiction-free.

Addiction has a devastating effect on families and is a major health crisis in America. It costs our nation more than $500 billion a year in social clean-up costs and causes unimaginable human suffering.  Yet most addiction begins in adolescence where it is easily preventable:

“The median reported age of initiation of illicit drug use in adults with substance use disorders is 16 years, with 50% of the cases beginning between ages 15 and 18 and rare initiation after age 20.” (American Journal Psychiatry 160:6, June 2003 P. 1041)

Fortunately, research shows most youth substance use can be prevented by parents who are well-trained in three types of skills. They are bonding (creating warm, loving relationships), setting clear boundaries against substance use, and monitoring youth’s activities to see that they always stay in an alcohol and drug-free social environment.

Adolescence is a critical period of brain development, and alcohol and drugs will harm their brains. Substance use also has a serious negative effect on other aspects of children’s lives:

“The younger adolescents are when they start to drink, the more likely they are to engage in risky behaviors, including using drugs… having sex with six or more partners, and earning grades that are mostly D’s and F’s in school.” (NIAAA Alcohol Alert, 1/ 2006, p.1)

Despite these alarming facts, in the 2018 Monitoring the Future survey, 30% of 12th-grade students in America reported drinking. In some states, teen marijuana use sky-rocketed.

SFP was specifically crafted to train parents and youth in family relationship skills and refusal skills that keep children safe from both addiction and adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s).

When children are neglected or abused, suffering adverse childhood experiences, it negatively affects their developing brain. This puts them at risk for social problems, school failure, depression, delinquency, and substance abuse. This trickles down to the next generation.

Currently, one in 10 American children lives with an addicted parent, putting them at risk for ACEs and 40% more likely to use alcohol or drugs themselves. The ripple effect is huge.

SFP has been evaluated many times by independent researchers in randomized control trials or health services research with very positive results in reducing substance abuse and delinquency risk factors by improving family relationships. Hence, SFP is rated at the top of the list by international and national review groups including the prestigious World Health Organization, Cochrane Collaboration Reviews in Oxford, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime in Vienna, White House, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsor of the original SFP research, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). SFP is now being tested for the prevention of child abuse as an evidence-based program on Administration for Children and Families (ACF) grants to several states and tribes. Outcomes include increased family strengths and resilience and reduced risk factors for problem behaviors in high risk children, including behavioral problems, emotional, academic and social problems. 

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