What is Familias Unidas?
Familias Unidas is a family-centered, evidence-based substance use and sexual risk behavior prevention intervention for Hispanic youth and their families. It was developed by Drs. Hilda Pantin and Guillermo Prado at the University of Miami’s Department of Public Health Sciences. Familias Unidas is a multi-level intervention that targets risk (e.g., poor adolescent communication) and protective factors (e.g., parental involvement) at the family, peer, and school level. Familias Unidas has been implemented in several cities across the U.S., and is currently being implemented in Ecuador and Chile. Familias Unidas is being adapted for use on the internet, for obesity prevention, delivery in primary care settings and expanded roll-out in Latin America.
What is the evidence?
Familias Unidas targets multiple problem behaviors among youth in schools, community organizations and the juvenile justice system. Hispanic youth in Familias Unidas report:
The intervention, led by a trained facilitator and co-facilitator, is delivered primarily through eight multi-parent groups and four family sessions that aim to develop effective parenting skills. Facilitators should speak Spanish and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
The multi-parent groups meet in 2-hour sessions. Each group has 12 to 15 parents with at least one parent from each participating family. Group discussions aim to increase parents’ understanding of their role in protecting their adolescent from risky behaviors, such as substance use and unsafe sexual behavior, and to facilitate parental investment in the adolescent’s worlds. Additionally, four one-hour family sessions are guided by a facilitator and provide parents with an opportunity to apply the skills learned in the group sessions with their adolescent.
High engagement rates
Facilitators are taught important engagement and joining skills that optimize program participation. Furthermore, facilitators are trained on how to use a participatory process to deliver program content, including how to help parents communicate.
Fidelity evaluations are conducted by our team through the use of observational fidelity measures. These measures help to identify and rate core prescribed intervention components delivered by the facilitator. Additionally, supervision guidance is provided to the site clinical supervisor throughout the course of intervention delivery. This includes clinical discussion, troubleshooting of cases, and review of intervention fidelity.
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Endorsements & Recognitions
- Familias Unidas is ranked in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices among the highest (3.9 on a 0-4 scale) on strength of evidence of research quality.
- Familias Unidas is also listed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Compendium of Evidence-Based HIV Behavioral Interventions.
- Additionally, the Institute of Medicine cited Familias Unidas as one of two preventive interventions that has been found to be efficacious in preventing both drug use and HIV sexual risk behaviors.
- Familias Unidas has been recognized as a promising program by the highly prestigious Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development registry of evidence-based interventions.
- Drs. Hilda Pantin and Guillermo Prado, the developers of Familias Unidas have been recognized by the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, the Society for Prevention Research and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy for their work with the Familias Unidas intervention.
"Our life was very different before participating in Familias Unidas."Lidice Hernandez, Participating Mother
"As a school principal, I see the benefits of Familias Unidas, and I’m very thankful. It has been very positive. Yes, I would definitely recommend Familias Unidas to every school principal."Elio Falcon, Jr., Principal, Jorge Mas Canosa Middle School, Miami
I would extremely recommend this program to other kids, because it helps you interact with your family a lot better.Brandon Raymond, Participating Youth
"Familias Unidas did benefit our family a lot since there is more communication now. I would absolutely recommend it to other families. I think it would be a very, very good idea if schools became more involved in letting the program reach as many parents as possible."Lidiana Baster, Participating Mother
"We are proud of the work we’ve done so far, but there is so much more we can do... For instance, we are working on expanding the reach of the program through mobile devices.”Dr. Hilda Pantin, Familias Unidas Program Developer
"The goal, of course, is to – in the future – have this program available to all families in need in the United States and in countries throughout Latin America."Dr. Guillermo Prado, Familias Unidas Program Developer
"Familias Unidas is one of few programs in the US that has targeted the way that families communicate and also risky sexual behaviors and drug use among Hispanic adolescents."Maria Tapia, Familias Unidas Clinical Trainer