Julia da Silva’

APA Violence Prevention Office

APA reports on a “train-the-trainer” program developed in its Public Interest Directorate to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote positive parenting.

The ACT Raising Safe Kids Program: Helping Families Everywhere to Create Safe and Nurturing Environments for Their Children and Prevent Maltreatment

The mission of the APA Public Interest Directorate, part of the APA central office, is to apply psychology to fundamental problems of human welfare and social justice, and to promote equitable and just treatment of all segments of society through education, training and public policy. This article describes one program developed to help families promote positive environments for their children

The ACT Raising Safe Kids Program was developed and is coordinated by the APA Violence Prevention Office. This is a “train the trainer” program. Professionals (psychologists, social workers, nurses, counselors, teachers and others) are engaged in a 2-day workshop that prepares them to deliver the ACT curriculum to parents and caregivers. The ACT curriculum, which has been provided for over 15 years, aims toward teaching parents and caregivers of young children positive parenting skills and practices that help them create safe, nurturing, stable environments and prevent child abuse and neglect.  The ACT curriculum is a universal program that can be administered to any group of parents and caregivers from all backgrounds regardless of their level of risk.

Trained professionals (ACT Facilitators) deliver the ACT curriculum in 9 sessions to groups of parents and caregivers. The curriculum addresses child development, impact of exposure to violence and trauma on children, anger management, conflict resolution, impact of media on children, and positive discipline techniques.

The training for ACT facilitators is offered by partnering organization at several sites in the US y and overseas. At present, the program is offered in communities in 19 US states, and the District of Columbia, and outside the United States, in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Peru, and Taiwan. The materials used by coordinating centers are in Spanish, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, and Greek. To date, more than 3,000ACT Facilitators have been trained, and they collectively have provided the ACT curriculum to more than 5,000 parents and caregivers.

The APA Violence Prevention Office also organizes Webinars throughout the year to provide continuing education to professionals involved with the program and organizes the annual ACT Leadership Meeting at the APA headquarters that brings together about 40 of the program leaders.

This year, organizations in Croatia, Bosnia, Romania, Portugal, and Turkey will start the program.

ACT is recognized by Five Large Institutions as an Effective Parenting Program

The World Health Organization (WHO) in their recently published handbook, “Implementing Child Maltreatment Prevention Programmes: What Experts Say”, listed the ACT program as one of just three listed under Parenting Programmes, along with Triple P and The Incredible Years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Violence Prevention in their publication “Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect…” lists ACT as one of the “approaches that enhance parenting skills and promote healthy child development that demonstrated effects in preventing child abuse and neglect, at different levels of effectiveness.”

ACT is well evaluated and rated by the California Evidence-Based Clearing House on Child Welfare as having promising research evidence. In addition, the program is included by the U.S. Department of Justice Crime Solutions site and in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Head Start Office “Compendium of Parenting Programs.”

For more information, or to discuss how to be trained and become a partner, please contact Julia da Silva, director of the APA Violence Prevention Office at jsilva@apa.org

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