Twenty-four people came to Ames in June from across Iowa as well as from Wisconsin, Tennessee and even a U.S. air force base in Germany. They included mental health workers, a foster parent, a police officer and others who work in prevention programs to help youth survive and thrive. They came for one thing — to learn to facilitate ISU Extension’s Strengthening Families Program for Parents and Youth Ages 10-14 (SFP 10-14).
SFP 10-14 is a parent, youth and family skills-building curriculum designed to strengthen parenting skills, improve family bonding and communication and prevent adolescent substance abuse, said Cathy Hockaday, ISU Extension’s SFP 10-14 state specialist. The program includes sessions for parents, youth and families using realistic videos, role-playing, discussions, learning games and family projects.
A unique feature of the program is that parents and youth participate together, Hockaday said. SFP 10-14 was designed for and is used with ethnically diverse families in rural and urban settings. The program has been scientifically evaluated and shown to be effective. It also has been recognized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Kim Combes trains foster and adoptive parents. These parents often face challenging behavioral issues with their foster and adopted children, he said. He is interested in SFP 10-14 because it works with parents and youth separately, yet also brings them together.
Joann Gansen will facilitate SFP 10-14 in Jackson County. She said she is impressed with the research that backs up the program and the documentation that it works.
“I think this will be a great program to bring to our community,” said Kari Merski, a community readiness consultant. She plans to use SFP 10-14 with military families at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. She thinks the program will help military families deal with the issues they face when a parent deploys.
“We have 14 trainings confirmed or pending nationwide for the next three months,” Hockaday said. SFP 10-14 will continue to spread and help youth survive and thrive.