Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is an inclusive evidence-based parenting programme, designed to promote protective factors which are associated with good parenting and better outcomes for children.

SFSC has enjoyed success with parents from a number of backgrounds, including black and minority ethnic parents, teenaged parents, parents with learning disabilities and parents from marginalised communities, including those with experience of drugs, alcohol or violence. The programme has been extensively evaluated and has received the CANparent Quality Mark.

About the programme

Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities (SFSC) is a 13 week parenting programme, which has been used extensively to reach, retain and have an impact on parents from marginalised communities, including black and minority ethnic parents, teenaged parents and fathers.

SFSC is a universal programme, which helps parents with children aged up to 18 years to think about how their actions and experiences may influence their parenting style.

In particular, SFSC helps parents to:

  • Gain a better understanding of child development
  • Use positive discipline techniques
  • Promote children’s social skills and self-discipline
  • Achieve positive change in family relationships
  • Explore and develop strategies to deal with factors that risk poor outcomes for children, such as harsh and/or inconsistent discipline
SFSC draws on social learning theory and uses interactive learning methods, such as encouraging parents to share their experiences and values and undertaking practical activities practiced in the session and then implemented at home.
Fidelity is ensured through a structured quality assurance process which includes data collection (demographic and impact evidence), the collation of an evidence portfolio and/or observations by our team of experienced Programme Officers.

The online six week Strengthening Families parenting programme gives a taster of some of the issues and techniques covered in the full 13 week Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme.

The programme focuses on the challenges faced by parents of under 5s. Weekly facilitated online discussions ensure that parents can cover experiential elements of the SFSC programme, and give opportunities to share the challenges and successes that they have undergone in parenting.

The online programme is not a replacement for the SFSC programme, but is instead meant as an introduction to the parenting techniques from the 13 week programme. It may be suitable for parents who have struggled to attend more traditional parenting programmes, due to work, study, or distance from programme venues.  The online course might also suit parents who lack the confidence to join a face-to-face group. The course costs £100.

Please note the online course is currently being updated and will not be available again until the summer 2018.

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The Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme is structured into five component areas. Information from the different component areas is integrated throughout the 13 sessions of the curriculum.
Cultural/spiritual
 Rites of Passage Enhancing Relationships
Process of Discipline Community Involvement

Programme delivery

In order to effectively deliver SFSC managers and commissioners need to be aware both of the fidelity requirements of the programme as well as what needs to be in place to make sure programmes are successful.

Once a week For
3 hours 13 weeks
2 facilitators 8-12 participants

Learn more

Quality assurance & support

Quality assurance processes apply to all programmes, taking place through some or all of the following:

  • phone calls from members of the SFSC team
  • a paper data collection exercise
  • a self assessment portfolio
  • and/or programme observations

Programme observations, whilst being the preferred method of assessing standards have been met are now only offered as part of paid for packages or as a result of a random sample of programmes observed each term.

Race Equality Foundation offers a range of support to ensure successful delivery of SFSC and the most positive experience for facilitators and parents alike.

Telephone support

Two dedicated phone lines for facilitators and agencies support during office hours

Peer support

Peer support groups are provided regionally and locally throughout the year

Website support

All SFSC facilitators have access to the Strengthening Practice members’ moderated site

SFSC team

All SFSC facilitators can email Programme Staff at the Foundation. Contact details for individual team members can be found here

Evidence and evaluation

There is a great deal of evidence on the efficacy of the SFSC programme, from research reports based on pre- and post-test measures, to qualitative studies involving video. SFSC has received the CANparent Quality Mark.

How do we measure impact?
A significant number of the written studies are based on data collected from each programme. This includes:

  • demographic data on all parents
  • pre and post-test questionnaire responses
  • facilitator reports reviewing programmes

In addition, studies have been produced using other measures including a number of standardised measures such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

What is the impact of SFSC?
Studies using data gathered from pre- and post-test questionnaires completed by parents have reported statistically significant change in:

  • parents’ self-esteem
  • parents’ confidence in their parenting
  • family relationships
  • relationships with children
  • child’s self-esteem
  • their child’s ability to control their own behaviour

Learn more

Materials

The following resources are available from the Race Equality Foundation order line:

  • Parent Manuals are £13 each and come in a number of formats and community languages including:
    • Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Polish, Punjabi, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese
    • Large print and easy words and pictures.
  • Large A1 laminated delivery posters
    • Building blocks
    • Process of discipline
    • Foundational circles
  • DVDs (suitable for recruitment and information provision)

Please use the order line 0207 428 1880 or complete and return the SFSC materials order form to Angela Azubuike.

References

  • SFSC infographic
  • Evaluation of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme 2009-2010
  • Evaluation of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities programme 2007-2009
  • Evaluation of the Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities Programme 2005/6 and 2006/7
  • Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinder evaluation report (Tower Hamlets)
  • Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinders
  • Empowering high-risk families of children with disabilities (external website- abstract only)
  • Test of Efficacy of Model Family Strengthening Programs (external website)
  • Family Environment Scale Manual: Development, Applications, Research – Third Edition.  Moos, R & Moos, B, Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press, 1994
  • REF helped SPAN to introduce SFSC to the South West 6 years ago. They have helped us to train facilitators, set up programmes, deliver peer support, supervise facilitators, chase funding, monitor and evaluate, recruit and retain parents, provided a practitioners’ website, a telephone helpline and invited us to their fabulous annual SFSC conference. Our work in partnership with REF has helped us to establish a network of support for parents right across the South West. With REF's help we have turned parents’ lives around. We are getting the most amazing results with parents, children and schools providing evidence of major improvements in family communication, discipline, engagement in community activities, breaking isolation and parent' progression into further training, volunteering and plans for future employment.

    Annie OliverParenting Support Manager, SPAN, speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
  • The programme gave me a lot of confidence in what I was doing already. I was doing a good job – I just needed to maybe do some things differently. The bits on behaviour, praise and positive discipline were really useful.

    #CANparent participant
  • I was referred by my daughter’s social worker because there were some areas I was
    lacking behind in my parenting; my social worker was worried about my daughter. Since
    I started on the course I’ve been gaining loads about how to promote my child’s social
    and emotional development. And it’s really helped me so much. I’m very very
    thankful for these people and our teachers for the support and encouragement through
    these sessions. And I say a very big thank you to everyone.

    Dad from LB Lambeth
  • I attended a Drug and Alcohol Education conference last week where there
    was a  discussion about recent research into 'what works'.   Strengthening
    Families scored high for successfully changing lives. I can totally understand
    why

    Sexual Health and Relationships NurseLondon Borough of Lambeth
  • I know I have a really quick temper but I like it here and I am relaxed because it’s interesting and not like school

    Young Parent in Waltham Forest
  • I have been accessing the support of the REF since 2007 when I started working on running SFSC programmes. The REF are very helpful, efficient and the staff are great. It’s great to know you can always ring on the helpline number for support. They have worked hard on the support package they offer in the last couple of years and it’s good to know someone will always get back to you if not be able to answer your question immediately. One of the best things about the REF is their vision for the future, commitment to research as well as their drive to support facilitators to use and share best practice. As a facilitator and project worker/Coordinator I feel really supported

    Rachel HornsbySFSC Project Worker, Bath and North East Somerset Council, speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
  • Thank you so much for the four week parenting course- it seriously works!! If I have another baby, can I repeat the course?

    It really has helped, I have really noticed a difference in our family. Even when problems arise I feel better equipped; I can access my tool box of information to deal with it: I feel calm, and in control and, best of all, confident that I do know what to do. The best thing is knowing that for every behaviour there is a reason; I can rationalise [my daughter's] behaviour. I really feel empowered and able to deal with behaviours that arise- even in only four weeks! (which is how long it takes to change a behaviour- it's true!) The course was so straightforward, uncomplicated and realistic. The advice given is easy to transfer to the home environment- which is all down to both of you being so friendly and approachable.

    This will make you laugh: you have become my driving instructor! I was never a very confident learner driver, but having had a good instructor I felt confident driving, even now I can hear him occasionally in my head when I drive. I know that sounds odd! That's kind of how it is now, when a problem arises with [my daughter] I can refer to you talking us through situations and it helps- thank you!

    CANparent delegate
  • My daughter (aged 3) slept through the night and went to sleep for the first time in forever without tears. Thank you for your kindness and time.

    Mum in Waltham Forest
  • We have been impressed by your commitment to this project and that you have delivered that which was required within the tight timescales. You rose to every challenge that was encountered and we are therefore grateful to you for the dedication that was shown

    Bekah LittleHead of Programme at the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC)
  • Before the programme I was under the impression that all that could be done had been done, and that there was nowhere else to turn. But from the guests on the programme and the handouts that were given out I know that there are other services that I can access, like the Family Information Service.

    Parent of child with ASD after SFSC programme
  • I’ve enjoyed coming to this course and always look forward for Monday as new and improved parent techniques were taught. It helped me to calm and control my temper and anger and deal with  stressful situations that sometimes I have to tackle with my child. I’ve liked when parents open up with their family situations and it made me realise that I'm not on my own and I even learned from other parents and prepared me for other situation my child might get to especially when hitting the teenage period. I would recommend this course to every parent and I wish it would be mandatory as it's a good way to learning our day to day basis with our kids. The coordinators were amazing, always listened to our drama and never judged and provide us with nice food and clean environment. Thanks

    Mum from Southwark
  • SFSC is more than a parenting programme. It really made me think about the values and beliefs that exist within my family and what I want to pass on to my children. I'd recommend it to any parent.

    Parent speaking about the SFSC parenting programme
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