Celebrating Families!

About This Program

Target Population: Families dealing with, or at high risk for, a multitude of problems: substance use disorders (SUD); multigenerational trauma; and compromised safety (e.g., child abuse/neglect and family violence)

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. It was designed to improve parenting skills, family functioning, and family relationships for families dealing with a multitude of challenges: multigenerational trauma; substance use disorders; compromised safety (child maltreatment and family violence); with resulting physical and mental health challenges and cognitive deficits. Its goal is to help children and families to be healthy, responsible and addiction free. Objectives include increasing resiliency and protective factors and reducing risk factors and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Celebrating Families!can be administered via both in-person and online (virtual) formats. The program is available in Spanish, ¡Celebrando Familias!

Although they have not been reviewed by the CEBC, two other adaptations are available: a version for Native American families, Wellbriety Celebrating Families and an additional component addressing critical parenting skills for young children, Celebrating Families! 0-3.

Program Goals

The goals of Celebrating Families! are:

For Children/Youth:

  • Improve emotional and behavioral coping skills.
  • Increase understanding about the impact of substance use on individuals and families.
  • Improve healthy living habits and knowledge about healthy living.
  • Improve interactions with parents/caregivers and other family members.

For Parent/Family:

  • Improve adults’ emotional and behavioral coping skills, such as emotional regulation and handling anger.
  • Increase understanding about effective parenting, including learning about setting appropriate boundaries, using age-appropriate discipline and reward strategies, displaying affection, and affirming worth of self and family.
  • Improve relationships between family members.
  • Increase understanding about the impact of substance use on individuals and families.
  • Improve healthy living habits and knowledge about healthy living.
  • Understand and implement strategies for recovering from harmful substance use and/or addiction.

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Celebrating Families!.

Essential Components

The essential components of Celebrating Families! include:

  • Offered in two formats:
    • In-person as weekly sessions of two and half hours (see below)
    • Online (virtually) as weekly sessions of 60-90 minutes facilitated remotely
      • Same components as in-person with adaptations made such as assigning as homework the following:
        • The Family Meal
        • Activities from the Connecting with My Family or Family Time.
  • Weekly format:
    • Family Time (30 minutes): Optional for families with young children focused on learning and practicing Essential Parenting Skills for families with young children.
    • Family Meal (30 Minutes): Meals are served for the whole family, modeling how to have a family meal.
    • Age-Appropriate Groups (90 minutes): The parents and children are divided into age-appropriate groups: ages 0–1, 2–3, 4–7, 7–10, 11–14, 15–17, and adults.
      • Opening (20 Minutes): Groups open with a centering exercise, followed by a review of trauma-informed group agreements 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): Each session closes with a brief summary of the session, WOW moments, a Reflection, and ends with Serenity Saying.
    • Connecting with My Family (30 Minutes): Activities specifically designed to help families apply each session’s theme including centering as a family and Family Acts of Kindness.
  • Skills taught with children & parents:
    • Centering
    • Communication
    • Anger management
    • Feelings
    • Choosing safe friends/relationships
    • Boundaries
    • Saying no
  • Skills taught with parents only:
    • Strengthening family relationships
    • Nurturing parenting
    • Affirmations
    • Positive discipline
  • Information shared with children & parents:
    • Components of healthy living
    • Impact of nutrition on brain chemistry
    • Facts about alcohol, tobacco, other drugs
    • Brain chemistry and addiction
    • Bullying
    • Learning differences
  • Information shared with parents only:
    • Dealing with children’s (and their own possible) in-utero exposure
    • Domestic/family violence
    • Children’s risk and protective factors
    • Protecting children
  • Insights:
    • Wonder of the World (WOW)
    • Acts of Kindness (helping others)
    • Children’s Affirmations
    • Values clarification
    • Self-worth/self-efficacy

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

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

  • High risk of involvement with child welfare system, harmful effects of trauma and adverse childhood experiences, harmful impact of substance use in the family, and other risk factors that can negatively impact children’s future mental and physical health, including their possible future addiction
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Other caregivers are welcome to participate in Celebrating Families! with the parents or caregivers who are receiving direct services as described above. Age-appropriate caregiver pages are sent home with all children/teens. They inform caregivers of subject covered and supportive at-home activities.

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:

In-person format: Two-and-a-half-hour weekly sessions. Online (virtual) format: 60- to 90-minute weekly sessions.

Recommended Duration:

Approximately 4 months (16 sessions)

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • Justice Setting (Juvenile Detention, Jail, Prison, Courtroom, etc.)
  • Public Child Welfare Agency (Dept. of Social Services, etc.)
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)
  • Shelter (Domestic Violence, Homeless, etc.)
  • Virtual (Online, Telephone, Video, Zoom, etc.)


Celebrating Families! includes a homework component:

There are four types of homework:

  • Parent/Caregiver Pages: At home activities for families
  • Acts of Kindness: Weekly children/teens and families are asked to do a kind thing for someone else, without accepting anything in return., and report back.
  • WOW Moments (Wonders of the World): All participants are requested to observe a WOW moment and report back to the group. (WOW moments are when a person is “moved” by a touch, words, smell, sight.) “Acts” and WOW moments are intended to promote empathy, compassion, and a sense of interconnectedness, while building self- efficacy.
  • Parent Affirmations: Weekly parents are asked to affirm children, including saying “I love you”, and spending 1-on-1 time with each child.

For online groups additional homework consists of a weekly Family Meal and activities from Connecting with My Family or Family Time.

Book/Game Exchanges, optional: Some sites provide books and games for families to take a book home and have time together.


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:

  • Curriculum
  • A large group room and break out rooms for the age-specific groups
  • Meal
  • Child-friendly equipment
  • Flipcharts/PowerPoints and general supplies
  • Handouts from curriculum
  • 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. Curricula 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.

Program Manual(s)

Manual details:

  • National Association for Children of Addiction. (2021). Celebrating Families!

The program manual can be ordered by filling out the order blank (https://nacoa.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Celebrating-Families-Order-Form-2023.pdf) or by calling: 301-468-0985 or 888-554-COAS (2627)

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

On site at any prearranged location within the US

Number of days/hours:

2-3 days, 7-hour sessions

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are no pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Celebrating Families!.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Celebrating Families! as listed below:

Technical Assistance after training is recommended and available by separate contract. It can be provided by site visits (in-person) or online (Zoom, teleconferencing). Technical Assistance can include fidelity monitoring, program implementation, coaching or support for program effectiveness evaluation.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Celebrating Families! as listed below:

Fidelity is measured by direct observation and quantitative scoring with existing fidelity instruments. Fidelity instruments measure the match between actual procedure and published curriculum. Additional training on Fidelity Instruments is available but not required. Please contact the program representative for more information (see bottom of page).

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Celebrating Families! as listed below:

The set of facilitator guides for the Basic Curriculum is five volumes including a Preface providing implementation instruction followed by detailed session-by-session implementation details for each age-group (4-17, parents/ caregivers).

The 0-3 Supplement Package consists of an Implementation Guide (which includes staff training modules for each Essential Parenting Skill), followed by detailed session-by-session implementation details for each age-group (0-3, plus parents/caregivers).

¡Celebrando Familias! facilitator guides include Spanish translation/adaptation of the Basic Curriculum Preface and session-by-session implementation details for each age-group.

Implementation Cost

There are no studies of the costs of Celebrating Families!.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has not been conducted on how to implement Celebrating Families!.

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: One-group pretest–posttest study
Number of Participants: Study 1: 36 Adults, Study 2: 64 Adults


  • Age — Study 1: Mean=37.31 years; Study 2: 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: 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 all participants showed significant improvement at posttest and that Hispanics showed as much or more improvement as non-Hispanics. Limitations include lack of a control group, variation of questionnaires by site and language, and small sample size.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Sparks, S. N., & Tisch, R. (2018). A family-centered program to break the cycle of addiction. Families in Society, 99(2), 100–109. https://doi.org/10.1177/1044389418767841

Type of Study: One-group pretest–posttest study
Number of Participants: 480 (263 parents/caregivers, 217 children)


  • Age — Adults: Mean=22.7 years; Children: 4-17 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Adults: 65% Hispanic/Latino, 30% Caucasian, 5% African American, and 5% Other
  • Gender — Adults: 40% Male and 60% Female; Children: Not specified
  • Status — Participants were children involved with the child welfare system.

Location/Institution: Santa Clara County, California

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that a family skills program such as Celebrating Families!™ (CF) changed behavior by reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors. Measures utilized include administrative data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Results indicate that parents referred from family drug court expressed significant behavior changes toward their children in ways that increased protective factors after the 16-week CF program, and youth showed better understanding of substance use disorders (SUDs). Limitations include outcomes only on parents’ awareness and frequency of behaviors that increase protective factors and are appropriate for their children and to children’s and teens’ understanding of the role of substances in their family’s lives, the absence of a comparison group, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Cohen, E., & Tisch, R. (2021). The online adaptation and outcomes of a family-based intervention addressing substance use disorders. Research on Social Work Practice, 31(3), 244-253. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049731520975860

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study with nonequivalent control group (Quasi-experimental)
Number of Participants: 99


  • Age — Average 34 to 41 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 2% African American, 66% LatinX, 21% Caucasian, 9% American Indian, and 42% Other
  • Gender — 47% Female
  • Status — Participants were children involved with the child welfare system.

Location/Institution: Santa Clara County, CA

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The purpose of this article was to compare outcomes of Celebrating Families!™(CF) from its original in-person mode to an online mode in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to improve parenting skills, family functioning, and family relationships to break the cycle of substance use problems. Measures utilized include the CF! Satisfaction Questionnaire, the Parenting Scale, the Family Strengths and Resiliencies Scale, the Self-Assessment of Parenting Skills, and “Learning from Celebrating Families!”. Results indicate that both groups showed improvement in outcomes, with moderate effect sizes and high satisfaction. Average scores of the online groups were generally lower than the in-person scores. Qualitative data yielded participants’ accounts of improvements in parenting behaviors, family relationships, coping skills, and knowledge insights. Limitations include a weak quasi-experimental research design, the potential measurement reliability issues of the prospective versus retrospective pretest approaches, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

The following studies were not included in rating Celebrating Families! on the Scientific Rating Scale...

Brook, J., Akin, B. A., Lloyd, M. H., & Yan, Y. (2015). Family drug court, targeted parent training and family reunification: Did this enhanced service strategy make a difference? Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 66(2), 35–52. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfcj.12028

The purpose of this study was to evaluate reunification outcomes for children and families who participated in a family drug court (FDC) that incorporated the use of Strengthening Families Program and Celebrating Families! programs. Measures utilized were administrative data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS). Results indicate that families receiving FDC services were more than twice as likely to reunify in a 45-month observation window. The results of this study add to the evidence that FDCs with the inclusion of two evidence-based parenting programs may offer a timelier route to reunification for families in the child welfare system due to parental substance abuse than traditional dependency courts. Limitations include the study relied on a quasi-experimental design with comparison group data harvested from the state’s child welfare administrative database, survival analysis results are computed based on the predictive capacity of the sample at the time of analysis, and lack of follow-up. Note: This study could not be used for rating Celebrating Families! due to the program being combined with the Strengthening Families Program.

Additional References

Sparks, S. N., & Tisch, R. (2019). Family skills training programs for family drug court. Drug Court Review, 2, 33–43. https://ndcrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/DCR2-Article-3.pdf

Tisch, R., & Wenger, S. (2013). Family-centered treatment in Hispanic communities. Join Together. https://drugfree.org/drug-and-alcohol-news/commentary-family-centered-treatment-in-hispanic-communities/

Contact Information

Mary Beth Collins
Title: Director of Programs
Agency/Affiliation: National Association for Children of Addiction
Website: www.celebratingfamilies.net
Phone: (301) 468-0985

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2022

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: May 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: June 2008