Familias Unidas is a family-based intervention for Hispanic families with children ages 12-17. The program is designed to prevent conduct disorders; use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes; and risky sexual behaviors by improving family functioning. Familias Unidas is guided by eco-developmental theory, which proposes that adolescent behavior is affected by a multiplicity of risk and protective processes operating at different levels (i.e., within family, within peer network, and beyond), often with compounding effects. The program is also influenced by culturally specific models developed for Hispanic populations in the United States.
The intervention is delivered primarily through multi-parent groups, which aim to develop effective parenting skills, and family visits, during which parents are encouraged to apply those skills while interacting with their adolescent. The multi-parent groups, led by a trained facilitator, meet in weekly 2-hour sessions for the duration of the intervention. Each group has 10 to 12 parents, with at least 1 parent from each participating family. Sessions include problem posing and participatory exercises. Group discussions aim to increase parents' understanding of their role in protecting their adolescent from harm and to facilitate parental investment.