Strong African American Families (SAAF)

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 alcohol 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 with children 10 to 14 years of age.


Program Activities

Caregivers and their children attend seven consecutive weekly sessions at a venue in their community (e.g., local community centers, schools, and churches). 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.

Intervention ID

11 to 13


Study 1

Parenting Practices

Brody and colleagues (2006) found that mothers in the treatment group reported more communicative parenting and that the targeted children had more protective factors. Additional analyses revealed that parents who attended more than five classes had greater changes in their parenting styles and in their childrens’ risk behaviors.


Child Alcohol Use

Children in the treatment group had negative images and attitudes of drinkers, drinking, and early sexual activity, as well as more effective resistance skills and future-oriented goals when compared to those in the control group. Children in the treatment group were also less likely to use alcohol. The treatment group did experience a growth in alcohol use, but its increase was 17.4 percent smaller than the increase in the control group.

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