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Blog: ASCERT’s Strengthening Families Programme Achieves Strongest Outcomes for Families

Jamie Compton-Rea, Service Manager at ASCERT, responsible for our Strengthening Families service explains what the Strengthening Families Programme is and highlights its success over the past four years.

Strengthening Families is a globally recognised, evidenced-based parenting programme which provides a unique opportunity for both parents and young people aged 12-16 to work together to improve their relationships.

My first experience of Strengthening Families (SF) was back in 2012 when ASCERT was funded by the Public Health Agency to deliver a pilot programme in the Colin area.  I was responsible for delivering the teen skills session for the 14 weeks and  working with teens specifically around their relationships with their parents which was very much a new challenge to me, but one that I relished and learnt a great deal from.

Due to the success of the pilot, the Public Health Agency funded a dedicated Strengthening Families Service to be delivered across the region in the five main health trust areas.  ASCERT was successful in 2014 in securing the contracts in the Southern and Belfast Trust areas.

Working in partnership with other agencies including NIACRO and the Health Trusts we delivered 10 programmes over two years and a subsequent nine programmes in the two year extension period.

From being involved in all 19 programmes I have been inspired by the tenacity and determination of parents to overcome adversity and also have a willingness to change, which I believe is one of the hardest things to do. 

Both teens and parents experience small changes throughout the programme, however they are great milestones for family members and are celebrated and praised to encourage further change. 

The programme uses prevention strategies to work with family members, giving parents and teenagers an opportunity to practice new skills in a structured, supportive setting and they are encouraged to continue to practice these skills at home. After the 14 weeks are complete, we graduate on the last week to celebrate the commitment families have made to further making their home life a more enjoyable environment. 

I am delighted that a recent evaluation of the SF programme by the programme developer Dr Karol Kumpfer, Professor of Psychology at the University of Utah, highlighted that the programmes delivered by ASCERT in the Southern and Belfast Trust areas showed the strongest outcomes for families in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland of any SF programmes delivered.

This is not just a testament to ASCERT but to the facilitators who support the families and the families themselves for embracing change and making new memories together.

For information on the Strengthening Families programme click here. 

Jamie Compton-Rea, Service Manager

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23 Bridge Street,
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239