The Strengthening Families Programme (SFP) is a 14 week, “whole family”, evidence-based skills programme developed in the US in 1982 that is now delivered in 36 countries. Unlike other family support programmes, SFP works with parents and children as a unit, this whole-family approach has proven to significantly improve the outcomes for families.
Henry Whiteside (SFP Development Director, Utah) will launch the documents at a webinar today (Thursday 16th) attended by those involved in the delivery across communities in Ireland and internationally. Speaking ahead of the webinar he highlights ‘the innovative nature of the Council since first developed in 2012 bringing together a range of agencies to collectively foster inter-regional collaboration, promote quality standards, and share learning across Ireland’.
In 2019, 23 programmes were implemented among the areas represented by National Council members; representing 175 families.
Speaking ahead of the launch, Donna Butler, member of the National SFP Council of Ireland, outlined why the report is so important. ‘This 2019 annual report brings together data from programmes delivered by member organisations across Ireland. We are delighted to see the continued roll out and new areas implementing SFP since its first delivery in Ireland, over a decade ago. In some areas, graduates of programmes (young people and parents) have become facilitators for the programme. Many have also gained further opportunities as a result of skills developed in terms of training and education. In our area in the North West, over the last 10 years we have implemented 36 programmes, representing the extensive interest and need for a ‘whole family’ programme such as SFP. We see how SFP consistently delivers significant sustained improvements in the lives of families who take part’.
The Strategic Plan 2020-2023 provides a four-year focused roadmap for the ongoing delivery and development of SFP in Ireland. Gemma O’Leary, Chair of the National Council of Ireland highlights its importance ‘we are committed to the ongoing development for SFP in Ireland. Our vision for the next four years is to ensure as many families and communities across Ireland can have access to this ‘whole family’ approach which is embedded within national policy and governance framework’.
Speaking at the webinar also will be a range of speakers highlighting the implementation of SFP and work of the National Strengthening Families Council across Ireland. Contributions will be also received from; Site Co-ordinators Garda Noel Loughran (Louth SFP) & Suzanne Lindsay (Tallaght SFP) and from families and parents who have participated on the programme from Tallaght, Cork and Blanchardstown.
The Strengthening Families Programme focuses on equipping parents and children with the skills that will support them long into the future. Parents develop communication skills, giving direction, managing stress, relationships, peer pressure, substance use education, problem solving and setting limits. In the Teens programme (12-16 years) they learn to communicate positively, understand feelings, cope with criticism, manage stress, develop social skills, problem solve, resist peer pressure, understand the consequences of substance abuse and understand short term consequences and long-term goals. In the 6-11 years programme the children learn similar skills appropriate to their age.