Stewards of Children

About This Program

Target Population: Staff and volunteers of schools and other youth-serving organizations, parents/caregivers, and concerned adults

Program Overview

The Stewards of Children program is a 2-hour training that teaches adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. It integrates commentary from sexual abuse survivors, experts in the field, and other concerned adults, all providing practical guidance for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. It is available in both a facilitator-led and online model.

Program Goals

The overall goals of Stewards of Children are:

  • Increased knowledge about child sexual abuse
  • Improved attitudes about preventing child sexual abuse
  • Changed child protective behaviors over the long-term
  • Improved child care codes of conduct for youth-serving organizations
  • Improved child care policies and procedures for youth-serving organizations

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Stewards of Children.

Essential Components

The essential components of Stewards of Children include:

  • Facilitator-Led Training:
    • Facilitator-led class sizes are usually 25 or fewer individuals and are typically held in schools, youth-serving organizations, churches and public meeting spaces.
    • All program content and concepts are delivered by DVD. This ensures high fidelity when training sessions are delivered by different facilitators or are conducted in diverse settings. It is also what makes this program unique.
    • A trained, authorized facilitator leads group discussions using pre-determined topics/questions at set intervals throughout the training.
    • All participants receive an interactive workbook that reinforces key concepts and facilitates fidelity. Participants are given the opportunity to use the workbook to prepare a personal action plan for protecting children from child sexual abuse.
    • Participants are given a certificate of completion at the end of the training. This is often turned in to the trainee's employer as proof of successful completion.
  • Online:
    • On-demand online training is available to individuals through the Internet. The program can be stopped and re-started at any time during delivery.
    • All online program content is identical to that delivered via DVD.
    • There is an interactive component to the online training. In lieu of group discussion, participants develop a personal action plan at intervals throughout the training. This can be printed out at the completion of the training.
    • There is a short post-test. Participants must score 80% in order to print out a certificate of completion.

Program Delivery

Adult Services

Stewards of Children directly provides services to adults (regardless of whether they are parents or caregivers) and addresses the following:

  • Deficit of knowledge in how to adequately prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse

Recommended Intensity:

This is a one-time training lasting two hours.

Recommended Duration:

This is a one-time training.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Hospital
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


This program does not include a homework component.


Stewards of Children has materials available in languages other than English:

Icelandic, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, 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:

Facilitator-led training: A Darkness to Light authorized facilitator, DVD player, TV, speakers, a room large enough to accommodate seated participants. Online training: computer or tablet, internet connection.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

– To become authorized to present the Stewards of Children program facilitator candidates must complete a full-day facilitator workshop conducted by a Darkness to Light certified instructor.

– While teaching or training experience is not required, facilitators must feel comfortable speaking and presenting in front of large audiences. Effective communication skills, including presentation and listening ability, are critically important to being a successful facilitator. Facilitators must be capable of both immersing in the topic and distancing themselves from the negative and traumatic aspects of child sexual abuse.

– All facilitators sign a facilitator agreement accepting all facilitator policies including a mandatory background check prior to taking on the role.

– Facilitators are asked to train at least 25 adults per quarter to maintain active status.

Manual Information

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

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
  • Facilitator Workshop Contact: Darkness to Light
    phone: (843) 965-5444
Training Type/Location:

Facilitator candidates attend a full-day facilitator workshop. These are hosted regularly in communities throughout the country as well as at Darkness to Light's headquarters.

Number of days/hours:

One full day – 8:30 am to 5:00 pm

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Stewards of Children as listed below:

Facilitators/organizations have the option to administer pre- and post-tests to participants These are available to facilitators on the Darkness to Light website or by request.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Stewards of Children as listed below:

Darkness to Light provides one-on-one technical and programmatic support for facilitators during business hours. Darkness to Light provides technical support for online training participants, 24-hours/day, 7 days a week.

Fidelity Measures

There are no fidelity measures for Stewards of Children.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Stewards of Children as listed below:

All facilitators receive a Facilitator Manual, Facilitator Guide & Script and Stewards of Children DVD when they complete the Facilitator Workshop. Copies of these can also be obtained by contacting Darkness to Light at or 843-965-5444.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has been conducted on how to implement Stewards of Children as listed below:

Paranal, R., Washington, K., & Derrick, C. (2012). Utilizing online training for child sexual abuse prevention: Benefits and limitations. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21(5), 507-520.

Rheingold, A. A., Zajac, K., & Patton, M. (2012). Feasibility and acceptability of a child sexual abuse prevention program for childcare professionals: Comparison of a web-based and in-person training. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21(4), 422-436.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Safety

Paranal, R., Washington, K., & Derrick, C. (2012) Utilizing online training for child sexual abuse prevention: Benefits and limitations. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 21(5), 507-520. doi:10.1080/10538712.2012.697106

Type of Study: Nonrandomized control group design
Number of Participants: 218


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — 79% Female
  • Status — Participants were volunteers or employees of child-serving organizations and included educators, mentors, civic and religious leaders, child advocates, foster parent advocates, counseling students, and local governing entities.

Location/Institution: South Carolina

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This article discusses the benefits and limitations of conducting the Stewards of Children program online from the perspective of participants, including what participants found effective, what challenges were most commonly encountered, and trainee perspectives of the program's overall impact. Results indicate that the majority of participants felt that the online format was effective and that this particular training was useful. Participants indicated that they found the online environment appropriate for a sensitive training topic such as Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. Participants also highly rated the resources made available to them throughout the training for emotional support. Limitations include that the study did not discuss the impact of the training on the prevention or identification of abuse.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: Six months.

Rheingold, A. A., Zajac, K., Chapman, J. E., Patton, M., de Arellano, M., Saunders, B., & Kilpatrick, D. (2015). Child sexual abuse prevention training for childcare professionals: An independent multi-site randomized controlled trial of Stewards of Children. Prevention Science, 16(3), 374-385. doi:10.1007/s11121-014-0499-6

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 352


  • Age — 18-64 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 65% Caucasian and 28% African American
  • Gender — 85% Female
  • Status — Participants were childcare professionals recruited from children's advocacy centers.

Location/Institution: Bend, Oregon; Atlanta, Georgia; and Beaufort, South Carolina.

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
The current study examines the feasibility and acceptability of the Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention program for child care professionals provided in two different formats: in-person and web-based. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) in-person training, (2) web-based training, or (3) waitlist control. Results indicated that stewards impacted knowledge, attitudes, and preventive behaviors. No differences were found between training modalities (i.e., in-person versus web-based) on knowledge and preventive behaviors. Limitations include the use of a post-test only assessment for knowledge and attitudes, attrition, and that the study did not discuss the impact of the training on the prevention or identification of abuse.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Letourneau, E. J., Nietert, P. J., & Rheingold, A. A. (2016). Initial assessment of stewards of children program effects on child sexual abuse reporting rates in selected South Carolina counties. Child Maltreatment, 21(1), 74-79. doi:10.1177/1077559515615232

Type of Study: Pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 1,011


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were childcare professionals recruited from children’s advocacy centers.

Location/Institution: Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Greenville, Laurens, and Pickens counties, South Carolina

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study also utilized information from Rheingold et al., 2015. This study aimed to determine whether the Stewards of Children prevention program is associated with increased child sexual abuse (CSA) reporting. Analyses examined whether rates of CSA allegations increased over time in three counties in South Carolina (SC) targeted with program dissemination efforts and whether CSA reporting trends differed between the three targeted counties and three comparison counties that did not experience substantial program dissemination. Results indicated that, for the targeted counties but not the nontargeted counties, estimated allegation rates increased significantly over time, corresponding with the onset of significant program dissemination efforts. Results also indicated significant between-groups differences in allegation trends for targeted versus nontargeted counties. Limitations include lack of randomization of counties, evaluation of allegations of other types of abuse and neglect, as this would help determine whether any detected changes were specific to CSA allegations, and lack of follow-up.

Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

No reference materials are currently available for Stewards of Children.

Contact Information

Agency/Affiliation: Darkness to Light
Phone: (842) 513-1614

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: February 2021

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2023

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2015