School Mental Health

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 82–92 | Cite as

Implementing Interventions with Families in Schools to Increase Youth School Engagement: The Family Check-Up Model

  • Elizabeth A. Stormshak
  • Gregory M. Fosco
  • Thomas J. Dishion
Original Paper


This study examined outcomes associated with the Family Check-Up (FCU), an adaptive, tailored, family-centered intervention to enhance positive adjustment of middle school youth and prevent problem behavior. The FCU intervention model was delivered to families in 3 public middle schools. The study sample comprised 377 families, and participants were randomly assigned to receive either the intervention or school as usual. Participation in the intervention was relatively high, with 38% of the families receiving the FCU. Participation in the intervention improved youth self-regulation over the 3 years of the study. Self-regulation skills, defined as effortful control, predicted both decreased depression and increased school engagement in high school, with small to medium effect sizes. The results have implications for the delivery of mental health services in schools that specifically target family involvement and parenting skills.


Prevention Parent training Family therapy Behavior problems School-based 



This project was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse grant DA018374 to Elizabeth Stormshak and National Institutes of Health grant DA018760 to Thomas Dishion. We acknowledge the contribution of the Portland Public Schools, the Project Alliance staff, and participating youth and families.


  1. Annunziata, D., Hogue, A., Faw, L., & Liddle, H. A. (2006). Family functioning and school success in at-risk, inner-city adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(1), 105–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arbuckle, J. L. (2006). Amos 7.0 user’s guide. Chicago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  3. Biglan, A., Mrazek, P., Carnine, D. W., & Flay, B. R. (2003). The integration of research and practice in the prevention of youth problem behaviors. American Psychologist, 58(6–7), 433–440.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Boekaerts, M., & Corno, L. (2005). Self-regulation in the classroom: A perspective on assessment and intervention. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54(2), 199–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brestan, E. V., & Eyberg, S. M. (1998). Effective psychosocial treatment of conduct-disordered children and adolescents: 29 years, 82 studies, and 5,275 kids. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 180–189.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Connell, A. M., & Dishion, T. J. (2008). Reducing depression among at-risk early adolescents: Three-year effects of a family-centered intervention embedded within schools. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(4), 574–585.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Connell, A. M., Dishion, T. J., Yasui, M., & Kavanagh, K. (2007). An adaptive approach to family intervention: Linking engagement in family-centered intervention to reductions in adolescent problem behavior. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75, 568–579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Davidov, M., & Grusec, J. E. (2006). Multiple pathways to compliance: Mothers’ willingness to cooperate and knowledge of their children’s reactions to discipline. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(4), 705–708.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Denham, S. A. (1998). Emotional development in young children. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  10. Derryberry, D., & Reed, M. A. (2002). Anxiety-related attentional biases and their regulation by attentional control. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 111(2), 225–236.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Dishion, T. J., & Andrews, D. W. (1995). Preventing escalation in problem behaviors with high-risk young adolescents: Immediate and 1-year outcomes. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 63, 538–548.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Dishion, T. J., Bullock, B. M., & Kiesner, J. (2008). Vicissitudes of parenting adolescents: Daily variations in parental monitoring and the early emergence of drug use. In M. Kerr, H. Stattin, & R. C. M. E. Engels (Eds.), What can parents do? New insights into the role of parents in adolescent problem behavior (pp. 113–133). Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Google Scholar
  13. Dishion, T. J., Capaldi, D., Spracklen, K. M., & Li, F. (1995). Peer ecology of male adolescent drug use. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 803–824.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dishion, T. J., & Kavanagh, K. (2003). Intervening with adolescent problem behavior: A family-centered approach. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  15. Dishion, T. J., Kavanagh, K., Schneiger, A., Nelson, S., & Kaufman, N. (2002). Preventing early adolescent substance use: A family-centered strategy for public middle school. In R. L. Spoth, K. Kavanagh, & T. J. Dishion (Eds.), Universal family-centered prevention strategies: Current findings and critical issues for public health impact [Special Issue]. Prevention Science, 3, 191–201.Google Scholar
  16. Dishion, T. J., & Loeber, R. (1985). Adolescent marijuana and alcohol use: The role of parents and peers revisited. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 11, 11–25.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Dishion, T. J., & McMahon, R. J. (1998). Parental monitoring and the prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior: A conceptual and empirical formulation. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1, 61–75.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Dishion, T. J., Poulin, F., & Medici Skaggs, N. (2000). The ecology of premature autonomy in adolescence: Biological and social influences. In K. A. Kerns, J. Contreras, & A. M. Neal-Barrett (Eds.), Explaining associations between family and peer relationships (pp. 27–45). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  19. Dishion, T. J., Reid, J. B., & Patterson, G. R. (1988). Empirical guidelines for a family intervention for adolescent drug use. In R. E. Coombs (Ed.), The family context of adolescent drug use (pp. 189–224). New York: Haworth.Google Scholar
  20. Dishion, T. J., & Stormshak, E. A. (2007). Intervening in children’s lives: An ecological, family-centered approach to mental health care. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Eisenberg, N., Gershoff, E. T., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Cumberland, A. J., Losoya, S. H., et al. (2001). Mother’s emotional expressivity and children’s behavior problems and social competence: Mediation through children’s regulation. Developmental Psychology, 37, 475–490.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Eisenberg, N., Valiente, C., Spinrad, T. L., Cumberland, A., Liew, J., Reiser, M., et al. (2009). Longitudinal relations of children’s effortful control, impulsivity, and negative emotionality to their externalizing, internalizing, and co-occurring behavior problems. Developmental Psychology, 45(4), 988–1008.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Eisenberg, N., Zhou, Q., Losoya, S. H., Fabes, R. A., Shepard, S. A., Murphy, B. C., et al. (2003). The relations of parenting, effortful control, and ego control to children’s emotional expressivity. Child Development, 74, 875–895.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Eisenberg, N., Zhou, Q., Spinrad, T. L., Valiente, C., Fabes, R. A., & Liew, J. (2005). Relations among positive parenting, children’s effortful control, and externalizing problems: A three-wave longitudinal study. Child Development, 76, 1055–1071.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Ellis, L. K., & Rothbart, M. K. (2005). Revision of the Early adolescent temperament questionnaire (EAT-Q). Manuscript in preparation.Google Scholar
  26. Ennett, S. T., Ringwalt, C. L., Thorne, J., Rohrbach, L. A., Vincus, A., Simons-Rudolph, A., et al. (2003). A comparison of current practice in school-based substance use prevention programs with meta-analysis findings. Prevention Science, 4(1), 1–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Forehand, R., Furey, W. M., & McMahon, R. J. (1984). The role of maternal distress in a parent training program to modify child noncompliance. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 12(2), 93–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Forman, S. G., Olin, S. S., Hoagwood, K. E., Crowe, M., & Saka, N. (2009). Evidence-based interventions in schools: Developers’ views of implementation barriers and facilitators. School Mental Health, 1, 26–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gardner, T. W., Dishion, T. J., & Connell, A. M. (2008). Adolescent self-regulation as resilience: Resistance to antisocial behavior in the deviant peer context. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 273–284.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Greenberg, M. T., Weissberg, R. P., O’Brien, M. U., Zins, J. E., Fredricks, L., Resnik, H., et al. (2003). Enhancing school-based prevention and youth development through coordinated social, emotional, and academic learning. American Psychologist, 58, 466–474.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Greenwood, G. E., & Hickman, C. W. (1991). Research and practice in parent involvement: Implications for teacher education. Elementary School Journal, 91, 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gumora, G., & Arsenio, W. F. (2002). Emotionality, emotion regulation, and school performance in middle school children. Journal of School Psychology, 40(5), 395–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hallfors, D., Cho, H., Sanchez, V., Khatapoush, S., Kim, H. M., & Bauer, D. (2006). Efficacy vs. effectiveness trial results of an indicated “model” substance abuse program: Implications for public health. American Journal of Public Health, 96(12), 2254–2259.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Hammen, C., Rudolph, K., Weisz, J., Rao, U., & Burge, D. (1999). The context of depression in clinic-referred youth: Neglected areas in treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 38(1), 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hawkins, J. D. (1997). Academic performance and school success: Sources and consequences. In R. P. Weissberg, T. P. Gullotta, R. L. Hampton, B. A. Ryan, & G. R. Adams (Eds.), Healthy children 2010: Enhancing children’s wellness (pp. 278–305). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  36. Hawkins, J. D., Guo, J., Hill, K. G., Battin-Pearson, S., & Abbott, R. D. (2001). Long-term effects of the Seattle Social Development Intervention on school bonding trajectories. Applied Developmental Science, 5(4), 225–236.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hill, N. E., Castellino, D. R., Lansford, J. E., Nowlin, P., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., et al. (2004). Parent academic involvement as related to school behavior, achievement, and aspirations: Demographic variations across adolescence. Child Development, 75(5), 1491–1509.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Horner, R. H., Todd, A. W., Lewis-Palmer, T., Irvin, L. K., Sugai, G., & Boland, J. B. (2004). The School-Wide Evaluation Tool (SET): A research instrument for assessing school-wide positive behavior support. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 6(1), 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jimerson, S. R., Egeland, B., Sroufe, L. A., & Carlson, B. (2000). A prospective longitudinal study of high school dropouts: Examining multiple predictors across development. Journal of School Psychology, 38(6), 525–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Katoaka, S. H., Zhang, L., & Wells, K. B. (2002). Unmet need for mental health care among U.S. children: Variation by ethnicity and insurance status. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 1548–1555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kovacs, M. (1992). Child Depression Inventory (CDI) manual. North Tonawanda, NY: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.Google Scholar
  42. Larson, R., & Ham, M. (1993). Stress and “storm and stress” in early adolescence: The relationship of negative events with dysphoric affect. Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 130–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Loeber, R., & Dishion, T. J. (1983). Early predictors of male delinquency: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 94, 68–99.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Loeber, R., Wung, P., Keenan, K., Giroux, B., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., van Kammen, W. B., et al. (1993). Developmental pathways in disruptive child behavior. Development and Psychopathology, 5, 103–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mason, W. A., Kosterman, R., Hawkins, J. D., Haggerty, K. P., & Spoth, R. L. (2003). Reducing adolescents’ growth in substance use and delinquency: Randomized trial effects of a parent-training prevention intervention. Prevention Science, 4(3), 203–212.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. McMahon, R. J., Slough, N., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (1996). Family-based intervention in the FAST Track program. In R. D. Peters & R. J. McMahon (Eds.), Preventing childhood disorders, substance abuse, and delinquency (pp. 90–110). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Metzler, C. W., Biglan, A., Rusby, J. C., & Sprague, J. R. (2001). Evaluation of a comprehensive behavior management program to improve school-wide positive behavior support. Education & Treatment of Children, 24(4), 448–479.Google Scholar
  48. Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational interviewing: Preparing people for change (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  49. Oldehinkel, A. J., Hartman, C. A., Rerdinand, R. F., Verhulst, F. C., & Ormel, J. (2007). Effortful control as modifier of the association between negative emotionality and adolescents’ mental health problems. Development and Psychopathology, 19, 532–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Patterson, G. R., Chamberlain, P., & Reid, J. B. (1982). A comparative evaluation of parent training procedures. Behavior Therapy, 13, 638–650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Patterson, G. R., & Dishion, T. J. (1988). Multilevel family process models: Traits, interactions, and relationships. In R. Hinde & J. Stevenson-Hinde (Eds.), Relationships and families: Mutual influences (pp. 283–310). Oxford, UK: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  52. Patterson, G. R., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1984). The correlation of family management practices and delinquency. Child Development, 55, 1299–1307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Peterson, P. L., Hawkins, J. D., Abbott, R. D., & Catalano, R. F. (1994). Disentangling the effects of parental drinking, family management, and parent alcohol norms on current drinking by Black and White adolescents. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 4, 203–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (1993). Family interaction patterns and children’s conduct problems at home and school: A longitudinal perspective. School Psychology Review, 22, 403–420.Google Scholar
  55. Pomerantz, E. M., Grolnick, W. S., & Price, C. E. (2005). The role of parents in how children approach achievement: A dynamic process perspective. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 229–278). New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar
  56. Purdie, N., Carroll, A., & Roche, L. (2004). Parenting and adolescent self-regulation. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 663–676.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Raggi, V. L., Chronis-Tuscano, A., Fishbein, H., & Groomes, A. (2009). Development of a brief, behavioral homework intervention for middle school students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. School Mental Health, 1, 61–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reid, M. J., & Webster-Stratton, C. (2001). The Incredible Years parent, teacher, and child intervention: Targeting multiple areas of risk for a young child with pervasive conduct problems using a flexible, manualized treatment program. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 8(4), 377–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rogers, M. A., Wiener, J., Marton, I., & Tannock, R. (2009). Parental involvement in children’s learning: Comparing parents of children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Journal of School Psychology, 47(3), 167–185.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Rothbart, M. K., & Bates, J. E. (2006). Temperament. In N. Eisenberg, W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 99–166). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  61. Rothbart, M. K., & Posner, M. I. (2006). Temperament, attention, and developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental psychopathology: Vol 2. Developmental neuroscience (2nd ed., pp. 465–501). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  62. Silk, J. S., Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2003). Adolescents’ emotion regulation in daily life: Links to depressive symptoms and problem behavior. Child Development, 74, 1869–1880.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. Spoth, R. L., Kavanagh, K., & Dishion, T. J. (2002). Family-centered preventive intervention science: Toward benefits to larger populations of children, youth, and families. [Special Issue]. Prevention Science, 3, 145–152.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. Spoth, R., Randall, G. K., & Shin, C. (2008). Increasing school success through partnership-based family competency training: Experimental study of long-term outcomes. School Psychology Quarterly, 23(1), 70–89.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Spoth, R. L., Redmond, C., Shin, C., & Azevedo, K. (2004). Brief family intervention effects on adolescent substance initiation: School-level growth curve analyses 6 years following baseline. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3), 535–542.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Stormshak, E. A., Bierman, K. L., McMahon, R. J., Lengua, L., & Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. (2000). Parenting practices and child disruptive behavior problems in early elementary school. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 29, 17–29.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. Stormshak, E. A., Connell, A. M., & Dishion, T. J. (2009). An adaptive approach to family-centered intervention in schools: Linking intervention engagement to academic outcomes in middle and high school. Prevention Science, 10, 221–235.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. Stormshak, E. A., Dishion, T. J., Light, J., & Yasui, M. (2005). Implementing family-centered interventions within the public middle school: Linking service delivery to change in problem behavior. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33, 723–733.Google Scholar
  69. Stormshak, E. A., Kaminski, R., & Goodman, M. R. (2002). Enhancing the parenting skills of Head Start families during the transition to kindergarten. Prevention Science, 3, 223–234.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. Tolan, P. H., Gorman-Smith, D., & Henry, D. B. (2004). Supporting families in a high-risk setting: Proximal effects of the SAFE children preventive intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(5), 855–869.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  71. Webster-Stratton, C. (1993). Strategies for helping early school-aged children with oppositional defiant and conduct disorders: The importance of home–school partnerships. School Psychology Review, 22(3), 437–457.Google Scholar
  72. Weisz, J. R., Weiss, B., Han, S. S., Granger, D. A., & Morton, T. (1995). Effects of psychotherapy with children and adolescents revisited: A meta-analysis of treatment outcome studies. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 450–468.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  73. Wentzel, K. R. (1989). Adolescent classroom goals, standards for performance, and academic achievement: An interactionist perspective. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81(2), 131–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Stormshak
    • 1
  • Gregory M. Fosco
    • 1
  • Thomas J. Dishion
    • 1
  1. 1.Child and Family CenterUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Personalised recommendations