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Program Profile: Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF)

Evidence Rating: Effective - One study Effective - One study

Date: This profile was posted on September 26, 2019

Program Summary

The program is designed to improve family functioning and enhance youth development by targeting parents’ relationships and parenting skills. The program is rated Effective. For the intervention group, there were statistically significant increases in levels of parental monitoring and positive self-concept, as well as statistically significant decreases in conduct problems and substance use initiation. There were no significant effects for racial pride socialization.

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

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program was developed to meet the needs of African American couples raising preadolescent and adolescent youth in the rural south. African American families often face chronic stressors, including limited economic resources, exposure to neighborhood violence, racial discrimination, and marital instability (Nelson et al. 2009). The program is designed to improve family functioning by targeting couple and parenting relationships, promoting positive interactions among couples, and enhancing positive youth development (which includes increasing substance use resistance, reducing conduct problems, and developing positive self-concept). The program seeks to improve parenting behaviors, which can then lead to improved youth outcomes.

Program Activities
The program includes six 2-hour sessions, delivered in the home, to maximize fathers’ participation. The sessions are primarily focused on parents, with youth joining the final 30 minutes of each session. The first 60 minutes of the sessions are focused on the couple’s issues, and the following 30 minutes focus on parenting topics. Couple issues include daily hassles and burdens, and communication skills such as active listening and recognition of how emotional states may compromise listening. Parenting or co-parenting issues include school, peers, parental monitoring, family rules, and building racial pride in children. The facilitator initiates discussion by focusing on the particular stressors that African American couples experience (e.g., work, racism, money), followed by an introduction to cognitive and behavioral techniques for managing stressors. Sessions then transition into encouraging the development of other protective couple and parenting processes such as conflict resolution and racial socialization. Each session emphasizes partners’ use of enhanced communication in response to daily stressors and use of pro-relationship behaviors to collaboratively address these stressors.

The facilitator then meets with the youth for a 15-minute activity focused on topics such as building self-esteem, handling peer pressure, and understanding parents. For the final 15 minutes of the session, both the youth and their parents engage in an activity such as a discussion or a game.

Program Theory
ProSAAF was developed through consideration of the unique stressors experienced by African American families in the rural south. Stress-spillover theories suggest that experiencing stressors (e.g., economic instability, violence, racism) reduces parents’ capacity to engage in positive co-parenting practices (Nelson et al. 2009). High levels of stress can be detrimental to family functioning, damaging the protective processes that foster resilience in families (Neff and Karney 2009). Additionally, theories on racial socialization suggest that the processes by which parents convey messages about race to their children affects how youth develop their racial identity. A positive racial identity is postulated to reduce substance use among youth of color (Neblett et al. 2008; Neblett, Terzian, and Harriott 2010).

Additional Information
ProSAAF is based on protective processes identified in prior prevention research, specifically from the Strong African American Families (SAAF) program developed by Brody and colleagues (2004). SAAF is a parent training and family therapy program designed to reduce youth substance use and sexual activity. ProSAAF added new components to the SAAF program, including content related to positive couple interactions, specific dimensions of protective parenting, and couples’ teamwork in the face of economic adversity and other daily stressors (Beach et al. 2016). The SAAF program can also be founded on

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Parental Monitoring
Beach and colleagues (2016) found that families who participated in the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) scored higher on measures of parental monitoring than did control group families. This difference was statistically significant.

Racial Pride Socialization
There were no statistically significant differences between groups on measures of racial pride socialization.

Conduct Problems
Intervention youth scored lower on the conduct problems scale than did control group youth. This difference was statistically significant.

Substance Use Initiation
Intervention youth reported less substance use initiation than did control group youth. This difference was statistically significant.

Positive Self-Concept
Intervention youth scored higher on the positive self-concept scales than did control group youth. This difference was statistically significant.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Beach and colleagues (2016) conducted a randomized controlled design to examine the effects of the Protecting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) program on parenting practices and youth risk and protective factors for substance use. Participants were African American couples with a preadolescent or adolescent child. All participants resided in mall towns or communities in Georgia, where the poverty rates are among the highest in the nation, and unemployment rates are above the national average (Proctor and Dalaker 2003). Participants were recruited through letters or phone calls. Couples were eligible to participate if they 1) self-identified as an African American couple with a child between the ages of 10 and 13, 2) had been living together or partnered for 2 or more years, and 3) were co-parenting the target child together for at least 1 year. Both parents and youth had to be willing to answer questions about their experiences inside and outside of the family. Additionally, couples had to be willing to spend 6 weeks engaged in an in-home educational program if they were randomly assigned to the intervention condition.

Of those eligible, a total of 206 families agreed to participate in the study and were randomized to the ProSAAF intervention (n =105) or the information-only control condition (n = 101). At the 8-month follow up, 70 intervention families and 69 control families were available for analysis. In the intervention group, more than half of the couples (70 percent) were married or cohabitating. The average length of marriage was 10.5 years. The couples had an average of three children. The fathers were, on average, 42 years of age, and the mothers had an average age of 38. The average age of the target child was 10.9 years. Fifty percent of the target children were male. In the control group, more than half (66 percent) of the couples were married or cohabitating. The average length of marriage was 9.33 years. The couples had an average of two children. The fathers were, on average, 38.6 years old; the mothers were, on average, 35.8 years old. The average age of the target child was 11 years. Sixty-one percent of the target children were male. There were statistically significant differences between groups on the age of adults, with ProSAAF couples being, on average, 3 years older than control group couples. The researchers controlled for couples’ average age during analyses. There were no other statistically significant differences between groups.

Outcomes were assessed using several different measures at the 8-month follow up. Parental monitoring was measured using the Parental Monitoring Scale (Brody et al. 2004). Racial pride socialization was measured using the Racial Pride Socialization Scale (Lesane-Brown et al. 2005). Conduct problems were assessed using the Self-Report Delinquency Scale (Elliott and Ageton 1980). Self-concept was assessed using two different scales, the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (Radloff 1977) and the Inventory of Black Identity Centrality and Private Regard Scale (Sellers et al. 1997). Finally, substance use initiation was assessed based on youth’s self-reported use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. The researchers did not conduct subgroup analyses.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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Facilitators are African American and drawn from communities similar to those being served. They receive 40 hours of training in program content, facilitation, delivery methods, and adherence to the program manual. Facilitators have a bachelor’s degree and 2 or more years of experience providing prevention programming or home visits in rural Georgia (Beach et al. 2016).
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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
Beach, Steven R.H., Allen W. Barton, Man Kit Lei, Jelani Mandara, Ashley C. Wells, Steven M. Kogan, and Gene H. Brody. 2016. “Decreasing Substance Use Risk Among African American Youth: Parent-Based Mechanisms of Change.” Prevention Science 17:572–83.
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Additional References

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

Barton, Allen W., Steven R.H. Beach, Tera R. Hurt, Frank D. Fincham, Scott M. Stanley, Steven M. Kogan, and Gene H. Brody. 2016. “Determinants and Long-Term Effects of Attendance Levels in a Marital Enrichment Program for African American Couples.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 42(2):272–287.

Barton, Allen W., Steven R.H. Beach, Justin A. Lavner, Chalandra M. Bryant, Steven M. Kogan, and, Gene H. Brody. 2017. “Is Communication a Mechanism of Relationship Education Effects Among Rural African Americans?” Journal of Marriage and Family 79(5):1450–1461.

Barton, Allen, Steven Beach, Ashley Wells, Justin Ingels, Phaedra Corso, Megan Sperr, Tracy Anderson, and Gene Brody. 2017 “The Protecting Strong African American Families Program: A Randomized Controlled Trial with Rural African American Couples.” Prevention Science 19(7):904–13.

Barton, Allen. 2017. Efficacy, Engagement, and Cost of the Protecting Strong African American Families Program. Unpublished manuscript.

Beach, Steven R.H, Alan W. Barton, Man Kit Lei, Gene H. Brody, Steven M. Kogan, Tera R. Hurt, Frank D. Fincham, and Scott M. Stanley. 2014. “The Effect of Communication Change on Long-Term Reductions in Child Exposure to Conflict: Impact of the Promoting Strong African American Families (ProSAAF) Program.” Family Process 53(4):580–95.

Brody, G.H., V.M. Murry, M. Gerrard, F.X Gibbons, V. Molgaard, L. McNair, . . . E. Neubaum-Carlan. 2004. “The Strong African American Families Program: Translating Research into Prevention Programming." Child Development 75:900–917.

Elliott, D.S., and S.S. Ageton. 1980. “Reconciling Race and Class Differences in Self-Reported and Official Estimates of Delinquency.” American Sociological Review 45:95.

Lesane-Brown, C.L., T.N. Brown, C.H. Caldwell, and R.M. Sellers. 2005. “The Comprehensive Race Socialization Inventory.” Journal of Black Studies 36:163–90.

Neblett, E.W., Jr., R.W. White, K.R. Ford, C.L Philip, H.X. Nguyen, and R.M. Sellers. 2008. “Patterns of Racial Socialization and Psychological Adjustment: Can Parental Communications About Race Reduce the Impact of Racial Discrimination?” Journal of Research on Adolescence 18:477–510.

Neblett, E.W., Jr., M. Terzian, and V. Harriott. 2010. “From Racial Discrimination to Substance Use: The Buffering Effects of Racial Socialization.” Child Development Perspectives 4:131–37.

Neff, L.A., and B.R. Karney. 2009. “Stress and Reactivity to Daily Relationship Experiences: How Stress Hinders Adaptive Processes in Marriage.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 97:435–50.

Nelson, J.A., M. O’Brien, A.N. Blankson, S.D. Calkins, and S.P. Keane. 2009. “Family Stress and Parental Responses to Children’s Negative Emotions: Tests of the Spillover, Crossover, and Compensatory.” Journal of Family Psychology 23:671–79.

Proctor, B.D., and J. Dalaker. 2003. Poverty in the United States: 2002. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Census Bureau.

Radloff, L.S. 1977. “The CES-D Scale: A Self-Report Depression Scale for Research in the General Population.” Applied Psychological Measurement 1:385–401.

Sellers, R.M., S.A. Rowley, T.M. Chavous, J.N. Shelton, and M.A. Smith. 1997. “Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity: A Preliminary Investigation of Reliability and Construct Validity.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 73:805.
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Program Snapshot

Age: 9 - 14, 25 - 69

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black

Geography: Rural

Setting (Delivery): Home

Program Type: Conflict Resolution/Interpersonal Skills, Family Therapy, Leadership and Youth Development, Parent Training, Alcohol and Drug Prevention

Targeted Population: Families

Current Program Status: Active