The ACT Raising Safe Kids Program was developed and is coordinated by the American Psychological Association’s Violence Prevention Office. Launched in 2001 and revised in 2006 and in 2011, the ACT Program teaches positive parenting skills to parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 8.
The program is based on research showing that …
- It is in the early years that children learn the basic foundations for life.
- Parents and caregivers can be the best positive teachers and role models OR the perpetrators of violence, abuse and neglect against their own children.
- Exposure to abuse and neglect early in life can have serious longterm emotional, cognitive and behavioral consequences for children and youth.
- ACT focuses on the important role of adults in shaping children’s early environment and experiences.
- ACT helps parents and caregivers build strong safe families that protect children from violence and its long-term consequences.
ACT Raising Safe Kids aims to:
- Mobilize communities and educate parents and caregivers about positive, effective parenting.
- Strengthen families and improve parenting skills and practices to create safe and healthy environments that prevent child maltreatment and protect children and youth from trauma and its long term consequences.
- Establish partnerships with a variety of organizations and agencies.
- Train professionals to take the program to families and caregivers in their communities.
What makes ACT special?
The design approach and components outlined below help make the ACT Program stand out among other interventions with similar objectives.
ACT has been designed as a community-based intervention for groups of parents and caregivers from all backgrounds, regardless of their level of risk for abuse.
The program is culturally sensitive and adapted to diverse groups and communities. Materials were carefully translated to reflect cultural and language specificities and are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and Japanese. It is being implemented in almost 80 communities in the U.S. and in 5 countries.
ACT can be hosted by a variety of organizations and implemented in diverse settings from schools to prisons, churches, community centers, childcare centers and mental health clinics.
Who can deliver
Professionals from a variety of fields including social workers, early educators, counselors, psychologists, nurses, teachers, and clergy can be prepared to deliver the program.
ACT materials and training fees are very affordable compared to other parenting interventions. Comparative study has shown that ACT presents better outcomes. In addition, the program can be integrated into the host organizations’ existing interventions and services for parents adding to their portfolio with minimum cost.
The program is well evaluated by senior researchers. Several research studies conducted, including two randomized controlled trials, demonstrate that ACT is a promising, evidence-informed program.
Parents enjoy the hands-on, participatory fun sessions, learn and use positive parenting skills, use less harsh discipline, make new friends, connect with community resources, and build happier safer families. Organizations adopt a cost effective program that helps them make a difference in their communities.
Program Curriculum & Materials
The research-based curriculum is delivered in eight, two-hour sessions – on average – by ACT Facilitators, professionals trained by the program. The curriculum is organized in eight modules as following:
- Understanding Children’s Behaviors
- Young Children’s Exposure to Violence
- Understanding and Controlling Parents’ Anger
- Understanding and Helping Angry Children
- Children and Electronic Media
- Discipline and Parenting Styles
- Discipline for Positive Behaviors
- Take ACT to Your Home and Community
ACT Facilitators will need the ACT kit to prepare and conduct the program sessions; materials in the kit include:
- ACT Facilitator Manual
- Parents’ Handbook
- Brochures for participants
- Evaluation and Instruments Guide
- Children’s Activities Guide
- Motivational Interviewing Manual
- ACT attendance card
- A DVD containing the ACT public-service announcement
- CD with the PowerPoint Slides and homework sheets
Proof that ACT works
Numerous studies of ACT conducted over the years have found that ACT can be considered a successful model to disseminate early violence prevention knowledge and skills to adults and as an evidence-informed program to help parents and caregivers raise children without violence. Specifically studies showed that:
- Parents enjoy the interactive classes, and apply at home what they have learned.
- Participants report the program as non-judgmental and an ideal opportunity to improve their parenting skills.
- After completing the program, parents are less likely to use harsh verbal and physical discipline, and children show less aggression.
- Parents also show increases in nurturing behavior, anger control and knowledge of their children’s developmentally appropriate behaviors.
Who can become an ACT Facilitator?
The ACT Facilitator is a professional coming from fields such as psychology, social work, nursing, early childhood education, among others, prepared and certified to facilitate the parenting program groups using the program standardized curriculum, materials, processes, and protocols and has completed all the requirements as determined by the APA Violence Prevention Office. They also involve their organizations and get their support to include the ACT program in their portfolio of activities for families.
To become an ACT Facilitator, interested professionals need to attend the 2-day training workshop held regionally or locally. It is required that workshop applicants have:
- A minimum of an Associate Degree; however a Bachelor degree is preferred.
- Organizational support to implement the program in their communities.
- Previous experience teaching and/or conducting groups of adults.
- Some knowledge about the program curriculum content.
To register for a training workshop, check the nationwide ACT Workshop Schedule and/or contact the ACT regional center nearest you and sign up to attend the next 2-day workshop for ACT Facilitators.
How to find the program classes for parents and caregivers
Parents and caregivers should contact one of the five ACT Regional Centers located in their regions to get help in finding a parenting group for the program closer to them. The centers can also help parents by making materials and resources on parenting, safety, discipline, bullying, and other topics of interest available to them.
Help and additional information on the ACT Regional Centers is available online. You may also print or order ACT materials.