DARE to be You

Program Goals

DARE to be You (DTBY) is a multilevel prevention program aimed at high-risk families with children ages 2–5. The program is designed to lower children’s risk of future substance abuse and other high-risk activities by improving aspects of parenting that contribute to children’s resiliency. DTBY combines three supporting aspects—educational activities for children, strategies for the parents or teachers, and environmental structures—to enable program participants to learn and practice the desired skills.

Originally, the community-based DTBY curriculum concentrated on youths, their parents, and community professionals. The training component was aimed toward the multiagency community teams who provided services to youth. The parent training of the current DTBY program evolved from the community trainings.

The objectives of the parent–child workshops include improving self-efficacy and self-esteem; increasing internal locus of control; enhancing decision-making skills through effective reasoning; mastering effective child-rearing strategies, particularly communication skills; learning effective stress management; learning developmental norms to reduce frustration with children’s behavior and increase empathy; and strengthening peer support.

DARE is an acronym for the key constructs of the program:

Decision-making, reasoning skills, and solving problems

Assertive communication and social skills

Responsibility (internal locus of control/attributions) and role models

Esteem, efficacy, and empathy

DTBY seeks to improve parent and child protective factors by improving parents’ sense of competence and satisfaction with being parents, providing them with knowledge and understanding of a multilevel, primary prevention program that targets Native American, Hispanic, African American, and white parents and their preschool children.

Program Theory

Each of the program components is based on ecological models of human development, social cognitive theory, and theories of reasoning about moral and social problems. Children are part of several different environments and different circles of influence. Interactions with other people, society, and culture all affect the development of the child. Research in development suggests that a child’s development is best served when there are strong supportive links between and among all environments and when the people in these environments share common values regarding development (Miller–Heyl, MacPhee, and Fritz 2001).

Program Components

The program includes a preschool activity book for children ages 2–5 and developmentally appropriate curricula for children in kindergarten through second grade, in grades 3–5, and in grades 6–8. High school students use a curriculum that encourages them to become teachers or leaders within their communities.

The parent–child workshops offer parents, youths, and families training and activities for teaching self-responsibility, personal and parenting efficacy, problem-solving and decision-making skills, communication and social skills, stress management, and strengthening peer support. Sessions are ideally given in 2½-hour increments over 10–12 weeks and include a 10- to 30-minute joint activity for parents and children to practice skills learned in the session.

After completing the program, parents are welcome to attend annual reinforcement workshops. These boosters are given with a minimum of two series of four 2-hour sessions and are designed to enhance skills learned without duplicating previous activities. The boosters are intended to foster supportive networks and to consolidate the skills gained from DTBY.

Additional Information

DARE to Be You is not affiliated with the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program.

Intervention ID: 
2 to 5

Study 1

Miller–Heyl, MacPhee, and Fritz (1998) studied the effectiveness of the DARE to be You (DTBY) program that was implemented in four sites across Colorado that differed markedly in their social ecology. The four sites consisted of an urban site, a valley site, a county site, and a mountainous site. The mountainous site—labeled the Ute Mountain Ute site—was a Native American community in the Four Corners area. It is isolated by geography (250 miles from the nearest city with a population of 25,000) and was plagued by high rates of school dropouts, deaths involving alcohol and other drugs, and teen parenthood. The valley site was an isolated agricultural basin, with fewer than five persons per square mile. A large percentage of the site was Hispanic, and the populace faced high unemployment, high rates of adjusted-rate mortgage foreclosures, and low per capita income. The county site was a semirural area in the southwestern high desert. This area also had high rates of unemployment and poverty and higher-than-average rates of substance abuse and child abuse. The urban site had a population of more than 281,000, was highly transient, and polarization along socioeconomic lines eroded the sense of community. This site also had the highest rates of child abuse and teen pregnancy in Colorado.

The DTBY intervention was targeted at high-risk families in these sites who had children ages 2–5. Family risk was defined by a set criterion that included parenting, education, economic, mental health, substance abuse, and psychological risks. Over a 5-year period, 496 parents were randomly assigned to the DTBY intervention group and 301 parents were assigned to the no-treatment control group. There were 168 study participants in the Ute Mountain Ute site, 192 participants in the urban site, 222 in the valley site, and 215 in the county site. Overall, the majority of families were from low-income backgrounds, with the median annual family income of $14,600 and 45 percent received some form of welfare. Parental education attainment varied between 7 and 22 years, but 26.4 percent overall were high school dropouts. The average age of mothers was 29.7 years, and the average age of fathers was 31.5 years. The overall sample was ethnically diverse: 45 percent white, 29 percent Native American, 22 percent Hispanic, 2 percent African American. There were no statistically significant differences between the intervention and control groups on demographic variables.

Each group completed the same battery of pretests before the program began and completed the same measures 1 year after entering the program and at yearly intervals thereafter. The attrition rate for both the intervention and control groups was 75 percent at the year 1 follow-up and 71 percent at the 2-year follow-up. The analysis for the current study included 227 intervention and 136 control parents who completed all year-1 follow-up measures and 137 intervention and 50 control parents who completed year-2 follow-ups.

Measures were administered orally by female program staff who were familiar with the community and knowledgeable about the local cultures. Measures looked at parent self-efficacy and self-esteem, locus of control, parents’ reasoning skills, effective discipline, stress, and normative child behavior. To evaluate parents’ reasoning skills, participants were asked to imagine themselves in three vignettes involving their child and violations of moral standards, violations of household rules, and oppositional behavior. They were then asked to rate four types of causal attribution (lack of ability, task difficulty, insufficient effort, and child blame) as explanations for their difficulty in coping with their child’s behavior.


Study 1

Child Rearing Practices

Miller–Heyl, MacPhee, and Fritz (1998) found mixed results on measures of child-rearing practices. Scores of DARE to be You (DTBY) intervention parents on harsh punishment, effective discipline, and limit setting increased significantly through the second follow-up period, while control parents scores remained the same. There was an increase in communication for intervention parents; however, it was only significant at the 1-year follow-up. No significant effects were found for autonomy and rational guidance.

Child Outcomes

DTBY intervention parents reported a significant increase in child development and a significant decrease in oppositional behavior over the 2-year follow-up, compared with the self-reports of the control parents. These changes in outcomes, while showing a treatment effect, could also be explained by child maturation over time. No changes were found on dependency or children’s social competencies. There was a significant decrease in problem behavior as reported by intervention parents at the first follow-up, but this disappeared by the 2-year follow-up.

Parent Self-Esteem

There was a significant increase on self-esteem and self-efficacy for intervention parents, compared with control parents. Intervention parents reported a significant increase in self-perceived confidence in the parental role and a significant increase on two different measures of satisfaction with parental role.

Locus of Control

Overall, the program made little impact on locus of control. At the first follow-up, intervention parents showed a significant decrease in the belief that chance (or fate) controls outcomes (compared with the control group parents), but this change was not significant at the 2-year follow-up. No significant differences were found between groups on internal control or the belief that powerful others control outcomes.

Attributions/Reasoning Skills

Parents in the intervention group attributed their difficulty in coping with their children’s behavior significantly less to ‘lack of effort’ through the 2-year follow-up, compared with control group parents. Also at the 2-year follow-up, parents in the DTBY intervention group attributed ‘lack of ability’ and ‘child blame’ significantly less than control parents. There was no significant difference between groups in attributing their difficulty coping to the task or situation that was presented.


There was no significant difference between groups on measures of stress, as they both increased over time. The intervention group approached significance on stress toward increased education and income at the 1-year follow-up, but this dissipated by the 2-year follow-up.

Social Support

Satisfaction with support was significantly higher for the intervention parents than the control parents at the 1-year follow-up, but not at the 2-year follow-up. No significant differences between groups were found for size of the support network (which is relied on for emotional and instrumental functions, such as advice or babysitting), frequency of contact and closeness to members of the network, or connectivity (how many people in the network know one another).