Connecting

About This Program

Target Population: Youth 11-15 years old currently in foster or relative care and their caregivers

For children/adolescents ages: 11 – 15

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 11 – 15

Program Overview

Connecting is a program for foster/relative caregivers and the teens (11-15 years old) in their care. It uses a trauma-informed approach and is designed to help strengthen family relationships and help families develop skills to reduce risk of drug use, risky sexual behavior, and violence among teens. The program includes two DVDs and a workbook with step-by-step activities that families complete at their own pace. Families receive weekly check-in contacts from a trained family consultant to answer questions about the program, facilitate use of the materials, and encourage families to complete the program. The book includes ten chapters covering background information, activities for caregivers to do alone and to do together with the teen, and ideas to help caregivers take care of themselves. Each chapter has references to video segments on the DVDs to promote discussions between caregivers and teens, demonstrate skills, or provide examples of how other foster families have dealt with similar issues.

Program Goals

The goals of Connecting are:

  • Improve bonding between caregiver and foster teen
  • Improve family management practices
  • Prevent teen substance use
  • Prevent teen risky sexual behavior
  • Prevent teen violence
  • Support LBGTQ+ youth in care

Essential Components

The essential components of Connecting include:

  • Involves caregivers (foster parents or relative caregivers) in all aspects of program:
    • Teens are directly involved in a subset of the activities.
    • Caregivers read the workbook, do all exercises (some alone and some with the teen), view all of the video material.
    • This is a self-directed program with short weekly support contacts.
    • Caregivers enlist the teen to work on exercises and activities.
    • The family consultants communicate only with the caregiver and do not connect directly to the foster teens in the family.
  • Uses a multimodal self-directed delivery system:
    • Materials are sent directly to the caregiver through the mail.
    • The Connecting caregiver workbook is designed to provide information, suggestions, and activities for caregivers and the teens in their care in a step-by-step easy-to-follow format
    • The Staying Connected with Your Teen DVD contains supportive video content with information and examples of problems that come up during adolescence with demonstrations of both skillful and unskilled responses by parents and teens.
    • The Connecting Youth Stories DVD includes video segments created by foster youth who share their stories of their journey into foster care and their experiences adjusting to their new homes.
  • Focuses on key themes
    • Building and strengthening relationships between foster youth and their caregivers
    • Identifying teen risk factors and reducing them
    • Identifying teen protective factors and strengthening them
    • Improving and supporting calm communication in the family
    • Teaching responsive caregiving
    • Managing emotions
    • Building and maintaining teen involvement and contributions to the family
    • Setting family guidelines for safe and healthy living
    • Providing appropriate supervision without invading privacy
  • Provides skill training for:
    • Calm communication
    • Emotion management
    • Family meetings
    • Setting and agreeing on family guidelines and consequences
    • Supervising and monitoring teens appropriately
  • Uses materials and technology to make it flexible:
    • Connecting is a self-directed program, so caregivers are the drivers (no extra burden of attending meetings or classes outside of the home on a set schedule).
    • Activities are scheduled into the family's busy home life.
    • Families can spend more time on topics they feel they need most, repeat activities they enjoy, and view video segments together or separately and as many times as they choose.
    • Weekly supportive communications with the family consultant are scheduled at the caregiver's convenience and made through the caregiver's preferred format (e.g., phone call, email, or texting).

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Connecting directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Youth 11-15 years of age with feelings of being alone and unsupported, family conflict, substance use, rule breaking, risky sexual behavior, delinquency, or violence

Parent/Caregiver Services

Connecting directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Foster parents or relative caregivers of youth 11-15 years of age with attachment problems and/or disruptive behaviors (such as teen substance use, teen rule breaking, teen risky sexual behavior, teen delinquency, and teen violence); the foster parents/relative caregivers may lack family management skills (such as establishing guidelines, monitoring, giving fair and consistent consequences), lack the ability to identify risky behaviors in youth, lack the knowledge of how to support LGBTQ+ youth, experience communication roadblocks, and/or experience family conflict

Recommended Intensity:

30-60 minutes of caregiver-directed lessons/activities per week with weekly check-in contact with a trained family consultant which is typically 5-10 minutes by phone, email, or text

Recommended Duration:

10-12 weeks

Delivery Setting

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Foster/Kinship Care

Homework

Connecting includes a homework component:

All of the program is delivered at home at the family’s own pace. Each chapter has self-care activities for youth and parents.

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Family consultants need telephone and internet access. A single 50% time family consultant can provide support for 20 families at any given time.

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Family consultants typically have a master’s degree in social sciences and strong experience working with families or youth in the foster care system.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program ; but there is not training available for this program.

Training Contact:

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Haggerty, K. P., Barkan, S. E., Skinner, M. L., Packard, W. B., & Cole, J. J. (2016). Feasibility of Connecting, a substance-abuse prevention program for foster teens and their caregivers. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 7(4), 639-659. doi:10.1086/686986

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 60

Population:

  • Age — Parents: Mean=47 years; Children: 11-15 years (Mean=13.5 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Caregivers: 74% White, 12% Black, 9% Native American, and 5% Asian/Pacific Islander; Children: 48% White, 15% Black, 30% Native American, 7% Hispanic, and 3% Asian/Pacific Islander
  • Gender — Parents: 83% Female; Children: 63% Female
  • Status — Participants were caregivers and foster children in the child welfare system.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study aims to test the feasibility, usability, and proximal outcomes of Connecting, an adaptation of Staying Connected with Your Teen, with foster families. Participants were randomly assigned into the self-administered program with telephone support from a family consultant (n=32) or a waitlist control condition (n=28). Measures utilized include the Family Environment Scale, and the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment. Results indicate overall satisfaction with the program was high, with 100% of foster parents reporting that they would recommend the program to other caregivers and that they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the program. Program completion was good, with 62% of families completing all 91 specified tasks. Analyses of proximal outcomes revealed increased communication about sex and substance use in the intervention relative to control condition. Teens in the intervention versus the waitlist condition reported lower family conflict, and more family rules related to monitoring and media use. Caregivers in the waitlist group reported significant increases in the teen’s positive involvements after receiving the intervention. Limitations include use of project-developed measures without established psychometrics, small sample size, attrition, sample bias, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

The following studies were not included in rating Connecting on the Scientific Rating Scale...

Haggerty, K. P., Skinner, M. L., MacKenzie, E. P., & Catalano, R. F. (2007). A randomized trial of Parents Who Care: Effects on key outcomes at 24-month follow-up. Prevention Science, 8(4), 249-260. doi:10.1007/s11121-007-0077-2

This study was designed to test the efficacy of Parents Who Care© (PWC) with African American (AA) and European American (EA). Participants were randomly assigned to three conditions: parent-adolescent group-administered (PA), self-administered with telephone support (SA), and no-treatment control. Measures utilized include teen self-reports on drug use, the Communities That Care youth survey, results found no effect of the intervention on rate of change in attitudes about drug use or frequency of delinquent or violent behavior. Both program formats reduced favorable attitudes toward drug use among youth; and AA youth in the self-administered intervention reported significantly less violent behavior than their control counterparts. No effects were found for drug use harm or delinquency. Finally, logistic regression predicting a combined outcome measure of initiation of alcohol, tobacco, drug use, and/or sexual activity found AA youth in both the group- and self-administered intervention conditions significantly less likely to initiate substance use and/or sexual activity than those in the control condition. Odds ratios indicated the chances of initiating sex or substance use were reduced by almost 70%for AA teens in the SA condition compared to controls, and 75% for the AA teens in the PA compared to controls. Limitations include reliance on project-developed measures without established psychometrics, self-reported measures, small sample size and that both intervention conditions in this study were paid up to $100 for their participation in the programs, which may limit the generalizability of the program. Note: This study is not used for rating this program in any of the 3 topic areas it is highlighted in since outcomes on Connecting as it is currently provided were not reported.

Storer, H. L., Barkan, S. E., Sherman, E. L., Haggerty, K. P., & Mattos, L. M. (2012). Promoting relationship building and connection: Adapting an evidence-based parenting program for families involved in the child welfare system. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(9), 1853-1861. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.05.017

The purpose of this paper is to report on the assessment phase of the study that identifies the substantive adaptations and augmentations necessary to adapt an evidence-based parenting program for families involved in child welfare settings. This paper details the first step in testing the feasibility of adapting Staying Connected with your Teen to provide state caseworkers a lower cost, easy to implement foster family intervention aimed at preventing risk behaviors among foster youth. Specifically this study assessed: Staying Connected with Your Teen, an evidence-based parenting program providing families with tools to support the healthy development of their adolescent children, including avoiding high-risk behaviors. Note: This study is not used for rating this program in any of the 3 topic areas it is highlighted in since outcomes on Connecting as it is currently provided were not reported.

Barkan, S. E., Salazar, A. M., Estep, K., Mattos, L. M., Eichenlaub, C., & Haggerty, K. P. (2014). Adapting an evidence-based parenting program for child welfare involved teens and their caregivers. Children and Youth Services Review, 41, 53-61. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.03.006

This paper describes the process used to systematically adapt Staying Connected with Your Teen™, a prevention-focused parenting program found in other studies to reduce the initiation of teens' risky behaviors, for use with foster teens and their relative or foster caregivers. This work has been guided by the ADAPT-ITT framework developed by Wingood and DiClemente (2008) for adapting evidence-based interventions. Qualitative work conducted in Phase 1 of this study identified the need for the development of a trusted connection between foster youth and their caregivers, as well as tools for helping them access community resources, social services, and educational supports. This paper describes the process used to develop new and adapted program activities in response to the needs identified in Phase 1.We conducted a theater test with dyads of foster youth and their caregivers to get feedback on the new activities. Findings from the theater test are provided and next steps in the research are discussed which include examining program usability, fidelity and feasibility, and testing this new prevention program that has been tailored for child welfare involved youth and their caregivers. Note: This study is not used for rating this program in any of the 3 topic areas it is highlighted in since outcomes on Connecting as it is currently provided were not reported.

Haggerty, K. P., Skinner, M. L., Catalano, R. F., Abbott, R. D., & Crutchfield, R. D. (2015). Long-term effects of Staying Connected with Your Teen® on drug use frequency at age 20. doi:10.1007/s11121-014-0525-8

This study utilizes participants from Haggerty et al. (2007). This study evaluates the efficacy of Staying Connected with Your Teen®. Participants were randomly assigned to three conditions: parent-adolescent group-administered (PA), self-administered with telephone support (SA), and no-treatment control. Measures utilized include the Family Environment Scale and the Social Development Model Observational Coding System (SDM-OCS). Results indicate at age 20 drug use frequency was significantly higher among Whites than Blacks as expected. The PA intervention had direct effects on reducing drug use frequency for both Blacks and Whites. The SA intervention had an impact on family stressors during adolescence for Whites, but not for Blacks. Results suggest that both formats for delivery were modestly efficacious for Whites, but only direct delivery was modestly efficacious for Blacks. Limitations include sample size and generalizability to other ethnic populations. Note: This study is not used for rating this program in any of the 3 topic areas it is highlighted in since outcomes on Connecting as it is currently provided were not reported.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Connecting.

Contact Information

Kevin P. Haggerty, PhD, MSW
Title: Director
Agency/Affiliation: Social Development Research Group, University of Washington
Website: www.sdrg.org
Email:
Phone: (206) 543-3188

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: January 2019

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: August 2018

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2019