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Strengthening Families for the Future (SFF) 

Best practice guidelines for mental health promotion programs: Children & Youth

Strengthening Families for the Future (SFF) is a Canadian adaptation of a successful program developed in the late 1980s by Dr. Karol Kumpfer of the University of Utah. SFF is a prevention program for families with children between the ages of seven and 11 who may be at risk for substance use problems, depression, violence, delinquency and school failure. The program is designed specifically to reduce risk factors, build individual resilience and enhance family protective factors. The Strengthening Families for the Future resource includes four components:

  • Getting Started
  • Parent Manual
  • Child Manual
  • Family Manual.

Each manual includes reproducible handouts, which are also provided in French.

Research published in Addiction (2003) found that the Strengthening Families program was the only one of 56 studies reviewed that showed promise as an effective prevention intervention.


Foxcroft, D.R., Ireland, D., Lister-Sharp, D.J., Lowe, G. & Breen, R. (2003). Longer-term primary prevention for alcohol misuse in young people: A systematic review. Addiction 98, 397–411.

Learn more:

Strengthening Families for the Future

Contact Pat Allan, Project Consultant
Phone: 519 884-8757

In Best practice guidelines for mental health promotion programs: Children & Youth:


  1. Address and modify risk and protective factors that indicate possible mental health concerns.
  2. Intervene in multiple settings, with a focus on schools.
  3. Focus on skill building, empowerment, self-efficacy and individual resilience, and respect.
  4. Train non-professionals to establish caring and trusting relationships.
  5. Involve multiple stakeholders.
  6. Provide comprehensive support systems that focus on peer and parent-child relations, and academic performance.
  7. Adopt multiple interventions.
  8. Address opportunities for organizational change, policy development and advocacy.
  9. Demonstrate a long-term commitment to program planning, development and evaluation.
  10. Ensure that information and services provided are culturally appropriate, equitable and holistic.

Theory, definitions and context for mental health promotion

Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Examples of Program Planning and Evaluation Components

Resources & Glossary


Authorship and acknowledgements

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