Schools and Families Educating Children (SAFE Children)

An Evidence-Based Practice


Schools and Families Educating Children (SAFE Children) is a family-based comprehensive preventive intervention for children who live in innercity neighborhoods and are entering first grade. SAFE Children combines two components: multiple family groups and individual reading tutoring.

The first component—multiple family groups—consists of weekly multiple family group meetings (e.g., four to six families per group) and addresses parenting, family relations, and parents’ involvement and investment in their children’s schooling. All family members are invited to attend these meetings.

The second component—the one-on-one reading tutoring program—is based heavily on phonics, teaching the basic skills of reading such as understanding letter–sound relationships, blending sounds into words, identifying letter combinations that correspond to regular combinations of phonemes, reading strings of words, and understanding the thought expressed by a sentence as it is read. Whole language strategies are incorporated into the program activities through games and reading time.

Goal / Mission

The goal of the program is to help families gain or increase parenting and family management skills that would facilitate successful child academic and social adjustment and, therefore, to promote social and academic competence and to lower risk for later antisocial behavior. In addition, the intervention concentrates on promoting initial academic success.

Results / Accomplishments

One study analyzed the growth trajectories in reading achievement from the end of kindergarten to the middle of 2nd grade for both intervention and nonintervention children. Children who received the intervention improved in overall reading ability at a more rapid rate for the reading composite (p < .01) than those who did not receive the intervention. Among families designated as high risk (those with less adequate parenting skills and family relationship quality at pretest), there was a decrease over time in aggression among children who received the SAFEChildren intervention, whereas there was essentially no change among children who did not receive the intervention (p < .05). In addition, SAFEChildren participants showed an improvement in concentration (p < .05) relative to those who did not receive the intervention.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Patrick Tolan, Ph.D.
Institute for Juvenile Research
1747 W. Roosevelt Road
Department of Psychiatry
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 413-1893
Social Environment / Children's Social Environment
Social Environment / Family Structure
Education / Student Performance K-12
Institute for Juvenile Research
SAMHSA's National Registry for Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
Date of publication
Geographic Type
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Families

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