UB School of Social Work Gets $1.2 Million Grant to Study Prevention of Substance-Abuse In Children

By Mary Beth Spina

Release Date: November 4, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A $1.2 million three-year federal grant to evaluate the effectiveness of family skills training to prevent substance abuse and other problems in children in welfare families where parents are involved in the abuse of alcohol or other drugs has been awarded to researchers in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

The grant is being funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Buffalo will be one of 18 sites in the U.S. where researchers will examine and evaluate the effects of family skills training on enhancing protective factors and minimizing risk factors for substance-abuse problems. They also will look at how the training affects children's risk factors for behavioral, emotional, social, cognitive and physical problems.

Kathleen A. Kost, Ph.D., UB research assistant professor and principal investigator, said that nearly 500 Erie County welfare families with a child ages 9-11 will be recruited to participate in the study.

"A major goal of our research is to determine what prevention models and services are the most effective in strengthening factors within the family unit so the children will be less likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs now and in the future," Kost explained.

Brenda Miller, Ph.D., director of UB's Center for Research on Urban Social Work Practice, is co-investigator on the project, which is being conducted under the auspices of the center.

Family skills training sessions for participating families will be conducted under subcontract by the Erie County Council for the Prevention of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Buffalo General Health Systems and Lake Shore Behavioral Health.

to identify, explore and develop creative strategies for problems facing today's families and children, particularly in urban settings.

"The local component is the first time the Strengthening Families Program (SFP) has been evaluated with a population drawn from a welfare setting," Kost said. SFP is composed of 14 skills-training sessions of approximately two hours each. Both parents and children attend separate classes during the first hour. During the second hour, they work together. The program also will incorporate social activities, including meals.

She noted that the first group of families will be studied beginning in the spring, adding that "at least a half dozen graduate and post-graduate students in the School of Social Work will assist with the project."

Kost explained that the 1997 New York State Welfare Reform Law requires that applicants to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program or the Safety Net Assistance (SNA) Program must be screened for alcohol and drug abuse as a condition of eligibility. If found positive, they must be assessed and, if needed, participate in treatment. All applicants to the two programs in Erie County who are assessed positively for alcohol or drugs problems and are mandated to receive treatment and have a child between 9 and 11 with whom they reside and play a parental role will be asked to participate in the project.