SAAF Programs FAQ

Thank you for your interest in the Strong African American Families Programs (SAAF and SAAF-T).  Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the programs. We hope that this list will be a resource to help you determine how SAAF and/or SAAF-T can complement your organization’s efforts to serve your community.






What is the goal of SAAF?  [Back to top]

The goal of SAAF is to build on the strengths of Black and African American families and support youth and their caregivers during the transition from early adolescence to the teen years with a specific emphasis on helping youth avoid risky and dangerous behaviors.   

What is the goal of SAAF-T? [Back to top]

The goal of SAAF-T is to build on the strengths of Black and African American families and support teens and their caregivers during this critical period as teens prepare for adulthood. The program focuses on future-oriented decision making and reducing dangerous and risky behaviors with a focus on minimizing sexual risks. 

How is SAAF typically implemented?   [Back to top]

SAAF is organized into seven sessions, typically delivered over the course of seven weeks.  Each session is two hours.  During the first hour, participants meet in separate Youth and Caregiver Sessions.  During the second hour, all participants come together for the Family Session. 

How is SAAF-T typically implemented?   [Back to top]

SAAF-T is organized into five sessions, typically delivered over the course of five weeks.  Each session is approximately two hours. The sessions begin with separate, concurrent Teen and Caregiver Sessions, followed by a Family Session where the Caregivers and Teens come together for family activities. 

Can the SAAF programs be implemented in an alternative time frame (e.g., weekend retreat, monthly vs. weekly)? [Back to top]

Research findings associated with SAAF and SAAF-T are consistent with the implementation format described above.  Agencies may opt to make changes to the manner in which the programs are implemented.  However, they should do so with an understanding that deviating from the structure used in the research trial could decrease the likelihood of obtaining similar outcomes and may affect program participation.

How many staff are needed to implement the SAAF programs? [Back to top]

We recommend that sites implement SAAF with a minimum of three staff (two dedicated to Youth/Teen Sessions, one dedicated to Caregiver Sessions, and all three together for Family Sessions).

What is the ratio of facilitators to youth/teen and caregivers? [Back to top]

The programs are packaged to accommodate 12 youth or teens and their caregivers.  The ratio for the Youth/Teen Sessions is one facilitator to six youth. The ratio for the Caregiver Sessions is one facilitator to 12 caregivers (possibly more if both caregivers attend).  In the Family Session, the ratio is 1 facilitator per 4 families.

How many individuals are in a group?  [Back to top]

As indicated above, the programs are packaged to accommodate 12 youth or teens and their caregivers. Note: If families include multiple youth or teens, agencies may elect to decrease the number of total families per group to ensure that the individual group size is manageable.

How many groups can run concurrently? [Back to top]

The timing of the groups is at the organization’s discretion. Considerations include available resources (trained facilitators, staff to recruit families/coordinate the groups, budget, a facility to host groups, etc.).  Running multiple groups concurrently will involve additional costs for the site because multiple sets of materials will be needed.

What is the recommended target population for each program? [Back to top]

  • SAAF: Youth between the ages 10-14 who identify as African American or Black and at least one caregiver who can attend the sessions with the youth.
  • SAAF-T: Teens between the ages of 14-16 who identify as African American or Black and at least one caregiver who can attend the sessions with the teen.

The programs are not recommended for groups with youth, teens or caregivers who have significant cognitive impairments or mental health problems that would interfere with engaging in program activities.  The programs have not been tested with youth or teens who do not have at least one caregiver who identifies as African American.

Would it be appropriate for SAAF or SAAF-T to be implemented with age groups other than those suggested (e.g., 10-14 for SAAF and 14-16 for SAAF-T)? [Back to top]

SAAF was tested with youth 11-12 years old.  Given the relatively similar developmental experiences, the target group was expanded to include youth ages 10-14.  The program was not tested on younger youth or older adolescents. SAAF-T was tested with teens 15-16 years old and expanded to include youth aged 14. The program was not tested on younger adolescents, older teens or young adults.

Can the programs be adapted?  How much flexibility is there? [Back to top]

Elements of SAAF and SAAF-T can be adapted, but the more the programs are changed from the original format the less likely it will yield outcomes similar to those obtained in the research trials.  Technical assistance is available to provide guidance and support about adaptations as well as helping sites differentiate between core activities and those that can be adapted without affecting outcomes.

Do the programs have to be implemented with fidelity? [Back to top]

Fidelity is most commonly defined as the degree to which a program or method is implemented in the manner in which it is designed to be implemented.  When implementing the SAAF and SAAF-T programs, it is strongly recommended that core components, highlighted in training, are implemented with fidelity.  However, technical assistance is available to guide sites that may want to adapt certain elements of the program to meet specific needs of their target groups.

Are fidelity instruments available? [Back to top]

Yes, these instruments include Adherence Checklists, a Facilitator Evaluation and a Fidelity Checklist. These materials are included in the materials provided to organizations that adopt the programs. 

Does CFR collect data from participants at sites that have adopted SAAF and SAAF-T? [Back to top]

The program packages includes surveys for youth or teens and caregivers that agencies can use to collect pre- and post-test data from participants. CFR encourages organizations to utilize the surveys.  For agencies that collect this data, CFR requests that the data be entered into the SAAF or SAAF-T Impact implementation support system, which will allow CFR to track implementation and outcomes across sites.

What is the cost for implementing SAAF or SAAF-T per family or group? [Back to top]

Implementation costs can vary widely depending on a number of factors (e.g., stipends for staff, family incentives, the provision meals or childcare).  Start-up costs and various implementation scenarios are provided on a budget summary spreadsheet.  Please contact the CFR Dissemination Office to request a copy of this document.

What types of organizations adopt and implement SAAF and SAAF-T? [Back to top]

The SAAF programs have been adopted by a variety of organizations – local organizations that provide services to youth and families, school systems, Communities that Care sites, Cooperative Extension, and state organizations associated with the provision of mental health/counseling services and the Office of Juvenile Justice.  Many of these organizations are willing to share their experiences with the SAAF and SAAF-T Programs. The SAAF Dissemination Office can provide contact information for these sites.


Why is it necessary to have a prevention program specifically targeting African American families? [Back to top]

CFR has been conducting research in African American communities for more than three decades. This research has revealed unique strengths and stressors for Black and African American families that can be best addressed in a curriculum that focuses solely on these families.  Of particular concern are the effects of racism and discrimination on families as well as the dangers of substance use and risky sexual behavior among Black youth and teens. Offering Black families an evidence-based, culturally relevant curriculum provides the best opportunity for ensuring that families can address issues in ways that are meaningful and effective.  

Can the SAAF programs be modified for use with other ethnic groups? [Back to top]

SAAF and SAAF-T were designed for and tested with Black and African American youth/teens and their caregivers. While we do not recommend modifying the programs for use with youth and teens who do not identify as African American or as being of African descent, the CFR Dissemination Office is available to discuss possible ways of implementing the SAAF programs with groups that include families with other racial backgrounds.  

Are there any bilingual components to the programs? [Back to top]

There are no bilingual components.

Can SAAF and SAAF-T be used with youth/teens in urban and suburban settings? [Back to top]

SAAF and SAAF-T were evaluated with African American families living in small towns and rural communities in Georgia.  This does not mean that the programs are ineffective with urban families, but simply that the programs were not tested with urban families.  Many of the principles of “competence promoting” parenting (see below) are meaningful for families regardless of their residential settings. Further, the families that comprised the research studies that informed the development of the core SAAF program lived in rural, suburban and urban areas. Technical assistance is available to work with organizations who want to modify activities or add additional activities to the SAAF programs in order to address experiences that are more relevant to the families they serve.


What is the parenting philosophy that guides the SAAF programs? [Back to top]

The SAAF parenting philosophy involves fostering competence promoting parenting.  Related parenting components include:

  1. Involved, vigilant parenting: setting limits, monitoring adolescents’ whereabouts and knowing their friends.
  2. Discussions about risk behavior: encouraging caregivers to give clear messages regarding their youth’s involvement in risky behavior, particularly substance use and sex.  Caregivers also learn to support their youth’s ability to resist peer influences that promote risky behaviors.
  3. Encouraging academic engagement: encouraging sustained parental involvement with school activities and personnel, and parents’ monitoring and support of their youth’s academic achievement.
  4. Racial socialization: teaching youth about the realities of racism while emphasizing the ability to achieve success in the face of these obstacles.


Why was the SAAF research focused on alcohol use versus other drugs? [Back to top]

The research study that tested the SAAF program was initially funded to decrease alcohol use.  At the time, substance use in general was relatively low for the targeted age group (11-12 year-old Black and African American youth), which made it an ideal time for prevention efforts. Of the substances that were being used at the time, alcohol was the most prevalent. The curriculum addresses general substance use, as well as other risky behaviors.

What led to the development of the SAAF-T Program? [Back to top]

SAAF-T was developed to address the disproportionate burden Black and African American teens experience from involvement with risky behaviors.  This includes the consequences of substance use, conduct problems, and risky sex, which pose significant threats to the health, well-being and future of Black and African American teens.  Studies have demonstrated that family-processes in general, and parenting in particular, can be powerful factors in protecting teens from both substance abuse and risky sexual behavior.  Most programs that target risky sex, however, do not involve family members and are not developed Black/African American teens.  SAAF-T was developed to address these limitations and target both substance use and sexual risk reduction among Black/African American teens. 

What are the major findings from the SAAF research trial? [Back to top]

Compared to participants who did not participate in SAAF:

  • Youth who participated in SAAF
    • Demonstrated fewer conduct problems
    • Were less likely to start using drugs
    • Delayed the onset of sexual activity
  • Parents/Caregivers who participated in SAAF
    • Reported less maternal depression
    • Reported higher levels of positive racial identity

What are the major findings from the SAAF-T research trial? [Back to top]

Compared to participants who did not participate in SAAF-T:

  • Teens who participated in SAAF-T had
    • Fewer conduct problems
    • Less frequent substance use
    • Fewer substance use problems
    • Reduced depressive symptoms
    • Decreased frequency of unprotected intercourse
    • Increased condom efficacy
  • Parents/Caregivers experienced improved protective caregiving practices which included enhanced
    • Communication about risky behavior
    • Problem solving between parent and teens
    • Parental monitoring
    • Support for teen’s academic engagement
    • Racial socialization practices including instilling racial pride and teaching strategies for dealing with discrimination

How was rural defined in the research?  [Back to top]

Federal guidelines were used to define rural.  The Census Bureau defines rural based on population density and includes territory outside places with a population of 2,500 or more or outside urbanized areas. The data reported in SAAF and SAAF-T are based on a classification system adopted by the Office of Management and Budget, in which all counties that are not designated as a part of metropolitan areas are considered rural.  Metropolitan counties contain a place or urbanized area of 50,000 people or more and a total population of at least 100,000.

Please contact Gregory Rhodes at (706)248-8422 or if you have additional questions.