- March 2007
- Vol. 8, No. 2
Evidence-Based Practice in Family Strengthening Programs
Family-strengthening intervention programs in schools and other community-based organizations help increase parents' abilities to guide their children's learning and create a community of support from which parents can draw over time. The Harvard Family Research Project recently examined a sample of 13 well-evaluated family-strengthening intervention programs that provide support to parents and seek to change family behaviors and environments to encourage healthy child development. The research brief, Lessons From Family Strengthening Interventions: Learning From Evidence-Based Practice, sought to determine what outcomes family strengthening programs can successfully target and affect, as well as the most effective practices and evaluation strategies.
The review found that family strengthening programs can promote several positive family outcomes, including improvements in the family environment and parent-child relationships, as well as an increase in parenting skills. Three program practices were found to be effective:
- Providing opportunities for parent-child bonding
- Focusing on family recruitment and retention
- Preparing staff to work with families and implement the program effectively
Because each of the programs in the study used sophisticated evaluation methods to show effectiveness, the study also identified common evaluation practices and made recommendations for improvement.
The full research brief, by Margaret Caspe and M. Elena Lopez, can be downloaded from the Harvard Family Research Project website: