Celebrating Families!

About This Program

Target Population: Adults in recovery from substance abuse and addiction and their children and other family members

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 17

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 17

Program Overview

Celebrating Families! is a family-inclusive, trauma-informed, skill-building program for families with a parent with a substance addiction that was developed to prevent children's future addiction and mental and physical health problems. The program combines prevention and intervention in order support the healing of families in early recovery, while developing skills to prevent future addiction. The program is available in a Spanish version, ¡Celebrando Familias!, with a minor cultural modifications but the same content.

Program Goals

The goals of Celebrating Families! are:

  • Break the cycle of addiction in families by increasing protective factors and decreasing risk factors in participants' lives
  • Build a healthy environment in families suffering from addiction and related abuse and violence, so children can be safe and healthy (physically, mentally, and emotionally) by enhancing parent-child relationships and attachment

Objectives are:

  • To improve parents' and children's mental health including decreased adults' use of alcohol and other drugs, by increasing their knowledge and use of healthy living skills including communication, expression of feelings, anger management, problem solving, stress management, and access to support
  • To increase family organization, cohesion, and reunification rates and decrease time to reunify families in Dependency Drug Courts
  • To improve relationships between children and parents including increased interactions, communication, and "positive parenting" (affirming, holding, teaching, playing, and reading)
  • To reduce risk factors and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): familial violence, extreme, inconsistent discipline, and parental substance use

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Celebrating Families!.

Essential Components

The essential components of Celebrating Families! include:

  • Weekly format:
    • Family Meal (30 Minutes): Meals are served for the whole family, modeling how to have a family meal. It is suggested that group leaders/facilitators serve the food, and then sit with families as they eat.
    • Opening (20 Minutes): The parents and children are then divided into age-appropriate groups: ages 0-1, 2-3, 4-7, 7-10, 11-14, 15-17, and adults. The opening for all age-groups is consistent, helping participants develop trust and sense of safety. Groups open with a centering exercise, followed by a review of group agreements and consequences and an Opening Activity - usually a game. Teaching begins with a short review of the previous session's content and includes check-in, announcements and Affirmations of Children for parents and Acts of Kindness for all children.
    • Insights for Living (60 Minutes): The main theme of the session is presented during a short instruction time. Incorporated into the teaching time are interactive, multimodal learning activities that further teach the session theme.
    • Closing (10 Minutes): Also consistent, each session closes in the same way bringing a sense of ritual to the group and consistent of a brief summary of the session, a Reflection, and ends with Serenity Prayer.
    • Connecting with My Family (30 Minutes): These activities are specifically designed to help families apply each session's theme.
    • Optional Book or Game Exchange: At sites where families have time together between sessions, children's books and games are available for families to take home each week.
  • Skills taught with children & parents: Centering, communication, anger management, feelings, choosing safe friends/relationships, boundaries, and saying no
  • Skills taught with parents only: Strengthening family relationships, nurturing parenting, and positive discipline
  • Information shared with children & parents: Components of healthy living, impact of nutrition on brain chemistry (and addiction), facts about alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, bullying, and learning differences
  • Information shared with parents only: Dealing with children's (and their) in-utereo exposure, domestic/family violence, children's risk and protective factors, and protecting children
  • Insights: Wonder of the World (WOW), Acts of Kindness, Children's Affirmations, and values clarification

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Celebrating Families! directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Harmful effects of addiction on the family and children's future mental and physical health, including their possible future addiction

Parent/Caregiver Services

Celebrating Families! directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Addiction with cognitive deficits, multiple health problems including depression and mental health concerns

Recommended Intensity:

Two and a half hour weekly sessions starting with a Family Meal followed by age-appropriate groups (ages 0-17 and adults) consisting of Opening, Insights for Living, and Closing and concluding with Connecting with My Family

Recommended Duration:

Sixteen weeks

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • Justice Setting (Juvenile Detention, Jail, Prison, Courtroom, etc.)
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


Celebrating Families! includes a homework component:

There are four types of homework:

  • Acts of Kindness: Participants are asked to do one kind thing for someone else each week, without accepting anything in return.
  • WOW Moments (Wonders of the World): Involves each participant observing a WOW moment and reporting back to the group.
  • Parent Affirmations: Saying "I love you" and spending 1-on-1 time with each child.
  • Book/Game Exchanges: some sites provide books and games for families to take a book home and have time together reading.


Celebrating Families! has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • A large group room and break out rooms for the age specific groups
  • Meal
  • Child-friendly equipment
  • Materials prepared for each session
  • Handouts to be distributed
  • Transportation for those in need

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Program can be administered by paraprofessionals. It is recommended that a Clinical Supervisor be available for oversight and consultation. Two-day training and curriculum are available for purchase from the National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA).

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

On site, or any pre-arranged location within the US

Number of days/hours:

2 days, 7-hour sessions

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Sparks, S. N., Tisch, R., & Gardner, M. (2013). Family-centered interventions for substance abuse in Hispanic communities. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 12(1), 68–81. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332640.2013.759785

Type of Study: Study 1 and 2: One group pretest/posttest studies
Number of Participants: Study 1: 36 Adults, Study 2: 64 Adults


  • Age — Study 1: Mean age=37.31 years, Study 2: Age not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Study 1: 15 White, 13 Hispanic, and 7 Other; Study 2: 100% Hispanic
  • Gender — Study 1: 31 Women and 5 Men, Study 2: Gender not specified
  • Status — Study 1: Participants were family drug court participants. Study 2: Participants were high-risk families, some with substance abuse issues.

Location/Institution: Study 1: Santa Clara County, CA. Study 2: Latino Community Development Center, Oklahoma City, OK; EMQ Families First (Dorsa Elementary School), San Jose, CA; and Mexican American Community Services Agency Collaborative (MACSA), Gilroy, CA

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of this article was to examine two studies that were conducted to determine whether Celebrating Families! is as effective with Hispanic families as with non-Hispanic families. In the first study, Hispanic and non-Hispanic families received the Celebrating Families! program in English. In the second study, Celebrating Families! was culturally adapted and delivered to Hispanic families in Spanish. Measures utilized include the Parent Retro/Post Questionnaire (Study 1); the Parent Satisfaction Scale, the Parents Skills Self-Assessment Scale, the Cognitive True False Test, the Youth Satisfaction Scale, Questions About You, and Before and After Skills Observation Records (Study 2). Results indicate that the all participants showed significant improvement at posttest and that Hispanics showed as much or more improvement as non-Hispanics. Limitations for the lack of a control group, variation of questionnaires by site and language, and small sample size.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Edwards, L. P., & Ray, J. A. (2005). Judicial perspectives on family drug treatment courts. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 56(3), 1-27. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-6988.2005.tb00106.x

Lutra Group. (2006). Year One (FY '05-06) Evaluation report for Celebrating Families! Grant summary. www.celebratingfamilies.net/PDF/YearOneEvaluationReport.pdf

Tisch, R., & Wenger, S. (2013). Family-centered treatment in Hispanic communities. Join Together. http://www.drugfree.org/join-together/commentary-family-centered-treatment-in-hispanic-communities/

Contact Information

Melissa A. Santos
Title: Senior Director of Professional Development & Organizational Initiatives
Agency/Affiliation: National Association for Children of Alcoholics
Website: celebratingfamilies.net/CFmodel.htm
Phone: (408) 665-4918

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: January 2015

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2019

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2008