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Program Profile: Strong African American Families (SAAF)

Evidence Rating: Effective - More than one study Effective - More than one study

Date: This profile was posted on June 10, 2011

Program Summary

This is a parental training and family therapy program targeted at rural African American families designed to reduce youths’ substance use and sexual activity. The program is rated Effective. SAAF group youth showed statistically significantly less increase of alcohol use and lower levels of alcohol initiation compared with the control group youth. SAAF group parents experienced a statistically significantly greater change in parenting behaviors targeted by the intervention.

This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.

Program Description

Program Goals
Strong African American Families (SAAF) is a parental training and family therapy program grounded in social bonding and control theories. The program works to strengthen the attachment between parent and child to reduce the likelihood of youth involvement in various problem behaviors, particularly risky sexual activity and substance abuse.

SAAF aims to strengthen parenting practices related to monitoring and supporting youth, articulating parental expectations for alcohol use, communicating with youth about sex, and promoting positive racial socialization. It also works to promote youths’ ability to focus on goals for the future, resist involvement in risk behaviors, maintain negative images of risk behaviors and peers who engage in them, and accept parental influences.

Targeted Population
SAAF targets African American families in rural communities with children 10 to 14 years of age.

Program Activities
Facilitators of the intervention, who receive more than 40 hours of training, conduct weekly sessions. Caregivers and their children attend 7 consecutive weekly sessions at a venue in their community (e.g., local community centers, schools, and churches). Youths and caregivers attended sessions separately for 1 hour, followed by a 1-hour joint session.

Caregiver session topics address monitoring, communication, limit setting, parental school involvement, racial socialization, and clear expectations about alcohol use. The youth sessions address goal setting, attitudes about substance use and people who use substances, risk behavior, resistance skills, racial socialization, understanding of parental perspectives, and acceptance of parental influences. The family sessions build upon these topics while supporting efforts to strengthen family relationships, as well as cultural pride and values.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Child Alcohol Use
Brody and colleagues (2006) found a statistically significant difference in the increase of child alcohol use over time. Children in the Strong African American Families (SAAF) treatment group were found to have 17.4 percent less growth of alcohol use, compared with children in the control group.

Child Alcohol Use Initiation
There was a statistically significant difference in child alcohol use initiation, with the SAAF treatment group reporting lower levels of alcohol initiation in the posttest period, compared with children in the control group.

Study 2
Change in Parenting Behaviors
Murray and colleagues (2014) found a statistically significant difference between groups in parenting behaviors. Compared with parents in the control group, parents in the SAAF group experienced a statistically significantly greater change in parenting behaviors targeted by the intervention.

Youth Risk Behaviors
There was also a statistically significant relationship between avoidance of risk opportunity situations and later reduced engagement in risk behavior for SAAF group youth compared with the control group youth.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Brody and colleagues (2006) evaluated Strong African American Families (SAAF) using an experimental design in which eight rural Georgia counties were randomly assigned to receive treatment (SAAF programming) or a control condition (brochures about parenting). Families receiving programming attended seven consecutive weekly classes at local community centers. Classes consisted of family instruction and separate classes for parents and children. Participants were chosen from county schools’ enrollment lists. Eleven-year-old students were randomly selected from these lists; their families were invited to participate in the study.

Out of 521 randomly selected families, 322 participated and completed pretests. The treatment group, 172 families, received SAAF programming. The control group, 150 families, received three informational mailings about parenting techniques. Before treatment, there were no significant differences between the treatment group and the control group. In 53.6 percent of the families the target child was a girl. Of the mothers in families, slightly more than a third were single, another third were married but separated, 23 percent were married and living with their husbands, and 7 percent were living with partners (not married). The median household income was $1,655 per month reflecting the low-income families the intervention targets.

Researchers collected observational data through home visits and used parent and child self-reports of behavior. They collected data from families 1 month before the SAAF intervention, 3 months after the classes had ended, and again 2 years following the end of classes. There was seven months between pretest and posttest. First, Hierarchical Linear Modeling was used to compare group equivalence. Next, Structural Equation Modeling was used for hypotheses testing. Specifically, intervention-targeted behaviors such as parenting style and enhancement of youth protective factors were tested to determine whether the SAAF programming had any direct effects. These analyses were replicated using multilevel analysis of covariance.

Study 2
Murry and colleagues (2014) evaluated SAAF using a randomized trial. Nine counties in Georgia were randomly selected to obtain lists of 11-year-old students. Students were then randomly selected from those lists for recruitment to the study. A total of 671 families were randomly assigned to the prevention condition (n=371) or the minimum control condition (n=299). Of the 671 families, 620 remained in the sample and completed a posttest. The 65-month follow-up (almost 5½ years) included 326 families from the prevention group and 245 from the control group. Retention was maintained by calls to families on a regular basis from community liaisons. Additionally, families provided contact information and received a semiannual newsletter.

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to test hypotheses of the study. During each data collection wave, one home visit was conducted for each family. Home visits consisted of self-report questionnaires in interview format. Interviews were private and administered by a data collector to address any literacy complications.

Interviews were conducted separately and privately. Four waves of data were collected, which included pretest, 3-month posttest; 29-month, long-term follow up; and 65-month, long-term follow up.
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Cost

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Costs for the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program package DVD/CD box set, facilitator implementation manual, and all other related training and support materials start at $7,000. For specific information about program costs, please see the University of Georgia Center for Family Research website: https://cfr.uga.edu/saaf-programs/saaf/
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Implementation Information

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For more information on implementation, see the program website through the University of Georgia Center for Family Research: https://cfr.uga.edu/saaf-programs/saaf/
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Brody, Gene H., Velma McBride Murry, Steven M. Kogan, Meg Gerrard, Frederick X. Gibbons, Virginia K. Molgaard, Anita C. Brown. Tracy Anderson, Yi–Fu Chen, Zupei Luo, and Thomas A. Wills. 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(2):356–66.

Study 2
Murry, Velma McBride, Lily D. McNair, Sonya S. Myers, Yi-Fu Chen, and Gene H. Brody. 2014. “Intervention Induced Changes in Perceptions of Parenting and Risk Opportunities Among Rural African Americans.” Journal of Child and Family Studies (23):422–66.
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Brody, Gene H., Velma McBride Murry, Meg Gerrard, Frederick X. Gibbons, Virginia K. Molgaard, Lily McNair, Anita C. Brown, Thomas A. Wills, Richard L. Spoth, Zupei Luo, Yi–Fu Chen, and Eileen Neubaum–Carlan. 2004. “The Strong African American Families Program: Translating Research Into Prevention Programming.” Child Development 75(3):900–917.

Brody, Gene H., Velma McBride Murry, Meg Gerrard, Frederick X. Gibbons, Lily McNair, Anita C. Brown, Thomas A. Wills, Virginia K. Molgaard, Richard L. Spoth, Zupei Luo, and Yi–Fu Chen. 2006. “The Strong African American Families Program: Prevention of Youths’ High-Risk Behavior and a Test of the Model of Change.” Journal of Family Psychology 20(1):1–11.

Brody, Gene H., Steven M. Kogan, Yi–Fu Chen, and Velma McBride Murry. 2008. “Long-Term Effects of the Strong African American Families Program on Youth Conduct Problems.” Journal of Adolescent Health 43:474–81.

Brody, Gene H., Yi–Fu Chen, Steven M. Kogan, Velma McBride Murry, and Anita C. Brown. 2010. “Long-Term Effects of the Strong African American Families Program on Youth’s Alcohol Use.” Journal of Consulting and Child Psychology 78(2):281–85.

The University of Georgia Center for Family Research. 2008. “About SAAF.” Accessed June 6, 2011.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 11 - 13

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black

Geography: Rural

Setting (Delivery): School, Other Community Setting

Program Type: Classroom Curricula, Family Therapy, Parent Training, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Targeted Population: Families

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide, Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development (formerly Blueprints for Violence Prevention)

Program Developer:
The Center for Family Research
University of Georgia, 1095 College Station Road
Athens GA 30602–4527
Phone: 888.542.3068
Fax: 706.425.2985

Program Director:
Christina Grange
Program Director
The Center for Family Research
University of Georgia, 1095 College Station Road
Athens GA 30602–4527
Phone: 888.542.3068
Fax: 706.425.2985
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Christina Grange
Program Director
The Center for Family Research
University of Georgia, 1095 College Station Road
Athens GA 30602–4527
Phone: 888.542.3068
Fax: 706.425.2985
Email