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Tia Burroughs Clayton, MSS
Consultant

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Alyson Ferguson, MPH
Chief Operating Officer

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Vice President of Learning & Community Impact

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Caitlin O'Brien, MPH
Director of Learning & Community Impact

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Tyrone Quarterman, BA, MPH Candidate
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Vivian Figueredo, MPA
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Georgia Kioukis, PhD
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ACT Raising Safe Kids Program

American Psychological Association

ACT Raising Safe Kids Program Logo

Program Website
Year:
2018
State:
District of Columbia
Winner Status:
Applicant
Program Type:
Training and Skill Building
Target Population:
Parents/Families
Setting:
Community

Program Description

The program was developed by the American Psychological Association Violence Prevention Office to help parents/caregivers of children birth to 8 years old change, improve skills and practices to increase positive parent-child relationship, reduce child behavior problems, and prevent child maltreatment. The center-based intervention has a universal approach and its 9-week research-based curriculum is designed for parents/caregivers from all backgrounds. It is culturally sensitive, adapted to various cultures, has materials in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, and others. The standardized curriculum is delivered in nine, 2-hour sessions to groups of 8-12 parents and cover: Behavioral change and motivation Understanding children’s behaviors Impact of trauma and adversities on children Parents’ emotional regulation and conflict resolution Understanding and helping angry children and electronic media Parenting styles, discipline, punishment Positive Discipline Options Parents as teachers, advocates, protectors of children ACT is delivered by trained ACT Facilitators, professionals with a Bachelor’s degree, working in early childhood education, education, mental health, health. Facilitators attend 2-day workshops conducted by certified ACT Master Trainers and completes certification requirements to conduct the program in their communities. Parents must attend a minimum of seven sessions to receive the program certificate.

Creativity

ACT translates complex content into simple, friendly language and formats for 6th grade level adults. Psycho-educational approach is nonjudgmental, non-confrontational, promotes parental self-efficacy. It incorporates adult learning theory, experiential, interactive opportunities to engage parents. Small group discussions, role-plays, creative activities, use of art materials and toys facilitate expression of ideas, feelings, and practice of skills. The interactive, strength-based curriculum, and delivery model help low literacy participants fully engage and understand the concepts. The program gives parents science-based information, opportunities to express themselves, and help them come up with their own decisions about their parenting practices. This model facilitates absorption of knowledge, practice of skills, and creation of a supportive community of parents with common goals and parental issues. Qualitative evaluation shows that parents appreciate the non-judgmental, interactive approach. Completion rates are 56%-74% in the US, which is good for a 9-session program for parents facing multiple stressors and barriers.

Leadership

The ACT program is currently implemented in fourteen states, DC, Puerto Rico in the US and in fourteen countries where hundreds of professionals in foundations, associations, universities adopt the program. For the purpose of attracting partners and professionals, APA Violence Prevention Office utilizes the ACT website, Facebook, blogs, listserv, Twitter, Google ad, APA website and social media outlets, articles in APA’s monthly magazine, presentations at international, national, state conferences to disseminate information about the program goals, curriculum, adoption requirements and procedures, materials and resources, intervention delivery model, evaluation processes and instruments. Through regular virtual meetings, phone calls, and emails, the office assists partnering organizations and professionals to ensure implementation is effectively conducted with fidelity and to share research-based resources and materials. In addition, quantitative and qualitative evaluation data provided by ACT professionals throughout the year, identify challenges and needs that guide technical assistance efforts through Webinars, meetings, conference calls.

Sustainability

The program requires support from community-based organizations, schools, universities committed to provide administrative coordination, own financial support, sustainability; trained and certified Facilitators to conduct program groups; Master Trainers to train Facilitators. ACT also benefits from the central coordination, guidance and support from the American Psychological Association Violence Prevention Office including program materials development, dissemination, marketing, online training of Master Trainers, organization of Webinars, evaluation, social media presence, program Web site maintenance, coordination of international sites. The Violence Prevention Office manages the Advisory Group and the Research Advisory teams. The office is the “fidelity guarantor” ensuring ACT is rigorously adapted, implemented in diverse cultures. The APA office’s projects and activities are supported by the Association and revenues from material sales. APA awards 12 mini grants annually to organizations to help with program implementation. APA has memorandum of agreements with universities in 14 countries to coordinate, evaluate the program.

Replicability

ACT has universal, community-based approach, basic curriculum, is for all parents of young children. It was created to be scaled up, adaptable to institutions serving all families. ACT is currently adapted, implemented by organizations in fourteen states in the US, in DC, Puerto Rico, and in fourteen countries. All have an infrastructure to support the program, and Facilitators, Master Trainers trained, certified by APA, authorized to use the copyrighted materials and adopt the program. Adaptation needs to be balanced against ensuring that essential elements and components are retained. Fidelity and adaptations are coordinated, closely monitored by the APA Violence Prevention Office in meetings, and through emails, conference calls, Webinars, trainings. In addition, requirements and boundaries for implementation and adaptation are outlined in the program website and in memorandums of agreement. Evaluations assess outcomes for diverse populations. APA doesn’t charge fees for organizations adopting ACT; provides technical assistance at no cost.

Results/Outcomes

ACT is well evaluated by senior researchers in universities in the US and other countries. Research-based articles published in peer-reviewed journals demonstrate the program effectiveness. Research on parental outcomes indicate significantly improved knowledge in anger management, social problem solving, non-violence discipline, and media literacy, as well as more positive parenting practices such as discontinuation of physical punishment, reduced spanking and hitting kids with objects, parents’ recognition and reinforcement of children’s positive behaviors; parental control and regulation of their emotions; internalization of the program messages and skills. There is also improved social support for parents. Studies also indicate benefits related to changes in children’s behaviors such as significant reduction in aggressive and disruptive behavior problems, and decrease in bullying and oppositional defiant problems. The ACT program is recognized as effective by the World Health Organization, CDC/Division of Violence Prevention, Head Start National Office, and DOJ Crime Solutions site.