CICC's Effective Black Parenting Program


CICC's Effective Black Parenting Program (EBPP) is the country's first culturally-adapted parenting skill-building program for parents of African American children. Its initial development in the 1970's was stimulated by the fact that none of the then-existing parenting skill-building programs were designed specifically for African Americans. Some of the then-existing programs, and especially behaviorally-based parent training programs like Confident Parenting, had been shown to produce positive results with African American parents (including inner city African American parents) but they did not address issues that were particular to African Americans (such as the impact of slavery on African American child rearing and the need to convey positive messages about cultural heritage) nor did they honor traditions in African American family life.

In 1976 CICC was successful in convincing the Minority Mental Health Center in the National Institute of Mental Health to underwrite a project that allowed for:

  1. Conducting badly-needed basic research on the actual parenting practices, attitudes and images of African Americans - research that could form the basis for modifying or adapting the then-existing programs by providing hard data on what African American parents actually do and want for their children. The research was with low to middle income African American parents from urban settings. It showed that (a) the parents had very high expectations for their children's achievement, (b) that most of the parents used harsh disciplinary practices that originated historically as survival adjustments to slavery, and (c) that less than half of the parents shared positive aspects of their culture with their children and many made disparaging comments about their culture and heritage.
  2. Utilizing the research findings to create new instructional units about cultural issues that could be taught along side the skills of three commonly used programs, the behaviorally-based Confident Parenting Program, the Adlerian-based Systematic Training for Effective Parenting Program, and the Humanistic Psychology-based Parent Effectiveness Training Program.

    Some of the skills from these programs included how to deliver praise effectively, how to use confrontive I-Messages, how to problem solve with children, and how to use special incentives (token economies) to motivate children. The new instructional units included an achievement strategy for raising African American children which linked the life goals that parents have for their children with the characteristics the children needed to develop in order to achieve those life goals, and what parents had to do to help this happen (The Pyramid of Success for Black Children). Other new units explored the relationship of slavery to the use of harsh discipline methods and the contemporary need to move to methods that are more likely to instill self-discipline in children (Traditional Black Discipline vs. Modern Black Self-Discipline), and several units that helped parents convey positive messages about African American culture and history and avoid ethnic self-disparagement (Pride in Blackness).

  3. Conducting an initial study to gauge the effectiveness of the three programs when they are taught with the new instructional units. This study was completed with inner city African American parents whose children were enrolled in Head Start preschool programs. The study involved comparisons between a matched group of parents who only attended a few training sessions (a low attendance group) and parents who attended the majority of training sessions (high attendance groups). Measures of parental acceptance and rejection were taken on a pre and post test basis, while other measures about family relationship changes and child behavior problems were taken on a post test only basis. High attendance parents showed significant increases in parental warmth (a protective factor) and significant decreases in parental rejection (a risk factor). High attendance parents also indicated that the quality of their relationships with their children was significantly better at the end of the programs (a protective factor); there was a trend in reduction of child behavior problems that favored the high attendance parents; and high attendance parents used more verbally positive practices and less physically harsh practices. The parents also reported great appreciation for the cultural issues covered, and indicated they were sharing many more positive aspects of their culture and heritage with their children.
The instructors of these programs reported that it seemed like they were running two different programs at the same time, and that the parents found it easier to learn the skills that were taught in the Confident Parenting Program.

All of the research with African American parents, the new instructional units, and the field test results of using the new units with the three programs are contained in the book, Black Parenting: Strategies for Training by Dr. Kerby T. Alvy, the project director, which was published by Irvington Publishers of New York.

In 1985, CICC obtained a three-year prevention research grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to conduct a controlled study with the Confident Parenting-based version. In preparing for this study, CICC reworked the design of the program so that the cultural units and issues became both dominant and totally integrated with the teaching of the Confident Parenting Program skills. Thus, a "new" parenting skill-building program was created, the Effective Black Parenting Program, which contained another program within it, the Confident Parenting Program.

The successful field testing of the new Effective Black Parenting Program through the NIDA research grant will be described below. For now, and in summary, the history of CICC's EBBP began with a recognition of the need for a parenting skill-building program that addressed issues that are specific to African Americans. New research information on the parenting of African Americans was collected and used to create new instructional units that could be taught side-by-side with existing programs. In a study where this new research-based content was taught with the existing programs, the result show that risk and protective factors were positively impacted. Then, the new content was carefully integrated around and into one of the existing programs (the Confident Parenting Program which in and of itself had accumulated research to show its effectiveness) to create what has become known as CICC's Effective Black Parenting Program, which is now the most widely used and accepted parenting program in African American communities nationwide.

Theoretical Assumptions and Outcomes Expected

All theories of problem behavior (whether they are theories about the causes of substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, gang participation, youth violence, child abuse and child behavior problems) bring attention to the nature of relationship between children and their parents and to the ways that parents raise children. Whether one assumes a theoretical perspective of a Social-Ecological, Developmental or Ecological-Developmental nature, all perspectives implicate the child-parent relationship and the quality of parenting as being important in whether a child does or does not engage in problem behaviors.

CICC's EBPP draws on all of these perspectives in its emphasis on providing parents with training to (1) help them enhance the quality of their relationships with their children, and to (2) employ parenting strategies and skills that research has shown to be most helpful in raising pro-social, competent and healthy children. For example, the EBPP teaches parents many skills to help them become more warm and accepting of their children's characteristics and abilities, and it teaches non-violent disciplinary skills to help them to be firm and fair in how to they guide and supervise their children's development. High parental warmth and acceptance mixed with firm and fair discipline has been shown to be the most effective parenting pattern (the authoritative parenting pattern) for helping children to become successful and healthy adults.

CICC's EBPP also draws on the idea that parenting programs that respect and honor one's culture are not only maximally effective in getting parents to use the skills that they teach. These programs also lead to a sense of group ownership and are seen as vehicles for advancing the group as a whole, goals and outcomes that are unlikely with non-culturally specific interventions.

So the long range goals for program participants is to have them guide their children's development away from delinquency, dropping out and substance abuse, and to have them experience a sense of pride in their heritage and people that will keep hope alive for a better day for them and their children. Short-term goals are to reduce family risk factors for problem behavior and increase family protective factors, as well as to reduce child risk factors and increase child protective factors.


  1. Targeted Populations: The EBPP was originally developed for parents of African American children aged 2 to 12. Most of its evaluation studies have been conducted with this population. However, since beginning the national dissemination of the program in 1988, the program has been successfully used with teenage African American parents and their babies, and with African American parents of adolescent children. Thus, its widespread usage has been with parents whose children range from 0 to 18.

    The EBPP has become the program of choice for hundreds of institutions nationwide that serve African Americans. These institutions have different missions, including institutions whose missions are substance abuse prevention, child abuse prevention, delinquency prevention and school reform (see list of the institutions nationwide that have had their staff trained to deliver the EBPP and other CICC programs like Confident Parenting and Los Niños Bien Educados. Approximately 60% of the institutions on this list had staff members trained to deliver the EBPP). EBPP has also become the program of choice by historically Black religious denominations as part of the Black Family Ministry Project of the National Council of Churches. Thus, nearly every type of health and human service, educational and faith group has found the EBPP to be worthy of use. Depending upon the mission and clientele of these groups, the program has been used in a Universal, Selected and Indicated manner. The program has most frequently been used with Selected, High Risk Populations.

  2. Format: The complete EBPP consists of 14 3-hour training sessions and a graduation ceremony. It has been delivered in a variety of settings: schools, Head Start agencies, churches, mental health clinics, substance abuse agencies, hospitals, counseling centers, etc.. The complete program is usually taught for small groups of parents (8 to 20) and the parents are recruited from the populations that the sponsoring institutions serve. The vast majority of EBPP's are conducted by individuals who completed a CICC-sponsored 5-day instructor training workshop, where, in addition to learning how to deliver the complete program, they learned a variety of recruitment and parent attendance incentive strategies. Recently, a briefer version of the EBPP was created (a one-day seminar version) which is taught with large numbers of parents (50 to 500).
  3. Session Content: As has been indicated, much of the content of the EBPP was developed from research with African American parents that was conducted as a necessary first step in determining which parenting issues are most important and most specific to this cultural group.

    Several examples of the research findings and the new cultural content were mentioned earlier. In addition to the new cultural content, several new general parenting strategies were created (including a Thinking Parent's Approach to assessing the causes of child misbehavior, and an approach to understanding family rules which makes it easier for parents to focus on children when they are following the rules). Coverage of such important topics as substance abuse prevention and single parenting was also included. Then, in 1996 when the EBPP was revised and upgraded, greater emphasis was placed on the value of collective responsibility for raising African American children. In addition, 40 African proverbs were added to the teaching of the program, including "Children are the reward of life" and "A shepherd does not strike his sheep." The proverbs are used in presenting every program concept and skill, which serves to ground the teachings of the program in the wisdom of the African ancestors. The Culturally-Specific Parenting Strategies, the General Parenting Strategies (including strategies from the Confident Parenting Program), the Basic Parenting Skills (all from the Confident Parenting Program) and the Special Program Topics that constitute the entire EBPP are displayed below.

    CICC's Effective Black Parenting Program Content

    1. Culturally-Specific Parenting Strategies

      • Achievement Orientation to Parenting: The Pyramid of Success for Black Children
      • Traditional Black Discipline vs. Modern Black Self-Discipline
      • Pride in Blackness: Positive Communications about Heritage, Coping with Racism, Avoiding Black Self-Disparagement
      • Finding Special Times for All of Our Children: Chit Chat Time

    2. General Parenting Strategies

      • Social Learning Ideas and Pinpointing and Counting Behavior
      • The Thinking Parent's Approach
      • Family Rules Are Like A Coin, and Family Rule Guidelines
      • Children's Developing Abilities
      • Children's Thinking Stages and the Development Swing between Belonging and Independence

    3. Basic Parenting Skills Taught in a Culturally-Sensitive Manner, Using African American Language Expressions and African Proverbs

      • Effective Praise
      • Mild Social Disapproval
      • Ignoring
      • Time Out
      • Special Incentives

    4. Special Program Topics

      • Single Parenting
      • Preventing Drug Abuse

  4. Teaching Methods: A variety of teaching methods are employed with an emphasis on role playing of skills in class before having the parents use the skills at home with their children. Careful research was done at arriving at the program's role playing methods, which not only involve trainer demonstrations before role playing but the breaking down of each parenting skill into its specific behavioral components. Other teaching methods include brief lectures, the display of all program content on transparencies, and home behavior change projects. The instructor follows a fully scripted Instructor's Manual as the program is taught, and each parent receives a Parent Handbook that contains all of the content of the program and the homework assignments.

    During the program, parents are encouraged to bring in one or more members of their extended families to get an appreciation of what they are learning and to gain support for it. Toward the end of the program, the trainer encourages parents to continue to meet for mutual support and skill enhancement booster sessions as a Harrambee (Friendship) Club.

  5. Staffing Requirements: The program is designed to be run by an instructor who has completed the intensive 5-day instructor training workshops that CICC conducts in different cities nationwide. The instructor is oriented to mobilize the assistance of many others in implementing the program, including individuals and groups who can provide child care, transportation, refreshments, advertising, space, etc..
  6. Instructor Qualifications: The ideal instructor is an African American with a positive ethnic identification, and with a background in child development, African American studies, behavior modification, and group processes. Most instructors have undergraduate or graduate degrees in such fields a social work, psychology, counseling or education.


Evaluation studies on the EBPP have been appeared in the Journal of Community Psychology (Volume 20, April 1992), in research monographs published by the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring, and in in-house publications of other institutions who have used the program. They were summarized in the book, Parent Training Today: A Social Necessity, by Dr. Alvy. This book also includes reports on the research with African Americans that was used in creating the content of the program.

The major evaluation study emerged from the 1985-1988 NIDA-sponsored research project that was conducted in South Central Los Angeles and it is herein described:

  1. Design: A quasi-experimental, pre-post test design with a one-year follow up was employed in this study. The study was conducted with two cohorts of educationally and socio-economically matched families. Cohort One consisted of 28 control group families and 64 treatment group families. Cohort Two included 36 control group families and 45 treatment group families. The treatment group families had completed the EBPP.

    All of the instructors that delivered the program during this field test where extensively trained in how to run the program and they followed the scripted Instructor's Manual as they ran the program to increase fidelity of program implementation.

  2. Measures, Data Collection and Data Analyses: A variety of process measures were used: session-by-session curriculum implementation forms filled out by the instructors to reflect fidelity of program implementation and problems encountered; client program satisfaction questionnaires, and systematic record keeping of client attendance, timeliness and completion of homework assignments. Several standard tests were used to assess client outcomes such as Rohner's Parental Acceptance/Rejection Questionnaire, Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist, Hopkin's Symptom Checklist, and Illfeld's Social Role Strain Questionnaire. In addition, other measures which were created by CICC for this type of evaluation were employed including a Retrospective Family Relationship Change Questionnaire, a Parenting Practices Inventory, and a Substance Use Inventory.

    The test battery was administered during in-home interviews with the parents. Carefully trained African American graduate students who were blind to which groups they were interviewing, did the interviewing.

    Some of the data analyses that were done for different research reports and articles included statistical controls for parental and family risk factors that could impact program outcomes, including chronic family strains (as indexed by Illfeld's Social Role Strain Questionnaire), socioeconomic level, parental substance abuse and parental mental health (as indexed by Hopkin's Symptom Checklist). Thus, for some reports a test was used as an outcome measure and for others as a co-variate.

    The article that appeared in the Journal of Community Psychology included reports on the results of Multivariate Analyses of Covariance (MANCOVAs) which were run to test for program effects on parental acceptance-rejection, parenting practices, family relationship and on child behavior problems and social competencies. Those analyses used family role strains, SES level, parental substance abuse and mental health status as covariates.

  3. Evaluation Results/Program Effectiveness: As can be seen in the Summary Table of Pre-Post Test Effects with Cohorts I and II from the Journal of Community Psychology article, the program produced (a) significant reductions in different varieties of parental rejection (risk factor reduction); (b) trends and significant results in favor of the program in terms of increases in use of positive parenting practices (protective factor enhancement) and decreases in use of negative practices (risk factor reduction); (c) trends and significant improvements in the quality of family relationships that favored the program (protective factor enhancement); and (d) significant reductions is delinquent, withdrawn and hyperactive behavior among boy and girl children that favored the program (risk factor reduction) and trends and significant differences in social competencies that also favored the program (protective factor enhancement).
The one-year follow-up which was reported in the Journal of Community Psychology article showed a maintenance in most of the positive program effects, with slippage back to pre-program levels on certain variables, and with enhanced performance on other variables. This slippage was seen as calling for booster sessions to help parents to stay on the Path to The Pyramid of Success for Black Children.

Summary of Pre-Post Test Program Effects for Cohorts I and II

Cohort Parental Acceptance-
Child Behavior



  1. Significant Reduction in Subtle Forms of Rejection (Undifferentiated)
  2. Trend to reduce Hostle/Aggressive Rejection
  1. Trend to Increase Use of Praise
  2. Trend to Decrease Use of Hitting
  1. Significant Improvement in Parent-Target Child Relations
  2. Significant Improvement in Parent Relations with other Family Members
  1. Significant Reduction in Withdrawn Behavior for Boys
  2. Significant Reduction Hyperactive Behavior for Boys
  3. Significant Reduction in Sexual Problems for Girls



  1. Significant Reduction in Subtle Forms of Rejection (Undifferentiated)
  2. Trend to reduce Hostle/Aggressive Rejection Practices
  1. Trend to Increase a Variety of Warm and Accepting Practices
  2. Trend to Decrease a Variety of Hostile and Agressive Practices
  3. Significant Increase in Use of Praise
  4. Significant Decrease in Use of Hitting
  1. Significant Improvement in Parent-Target Child Relations
  2. Significant Improvement in Parent Relations with other Family Members
  1. Significant Reduction in Delinquent Behavior for Boys
  2. Significant Reduction in Delinquent Behavior for Girls
  3. Trend toward Higher Social Competencies for Boys
  4. Significant Increase in Social Competencies for Girls

Other analyses of this evaluation research which appears in CICC research monographs show that there were significant reductions in parental mental health symptoms as a result of program participation. Here again the program served to reduce another family risk factor for delinquency and substance abuse, parental psychological dysfunction.

As has been indicated, the program is being used by thousands of institutions nationwide and some of these institutions have conducted their own evaluative research. For example, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the largest child welfare department in the country, has incorporated the EBPP into a large, multi-service effort called the Black Family Investment Project and they have had evaluators assess the impact of their project. They found that involvement in the project resulted in court-referred families making significant reductions in use of harsh disciplinary practices and their children becoming more cooperative and supervisable. This study also showed that participation in the project reduced recidivism and foster home placements to a significant degree (Turner-Suttle, 1993).


  1. Instructor Training: An intensive 5-day instructor training workshop prepares individuals to conduct the complete EBPP. Over 2,000 instructors from the institutions listed on the agency document have already been trained through these workshops. These workshops are led with professional trainers-of-instructors, all of whom are African Americans who have run the program themselves and who have received extensive training in conducting instructor training workshops.

    The 5-day intensive workshops cover the entire curriculum of the program and provide opportunities for the participants to deliver sections of the curriculum and to receive constructive feedback from the trainer and other participants. These workshops are for 15 to 25 participants, and are usually conducted for five days in succession. CICC schedules workshops in different cities on an annual basis, and it also schedules workshops on an as-needed basis when a state or county agency or a school district or church group contracts with CICC for a special workshop for their personnel only.

    The workshops are evaluated by the participants using standard evaluation forms. The trainer also uses standard forms to evaluate each workshop participant. Successful participants receive certificates of workshop completion.

    The current fee per workshop participant is $975 which covers the cost of the 5 days of professional training and the complete Instructor's Kit of training materials. The price of the Kit is currently $413.

  2. Program Materials: The complete Instructor's Kit includes a 333 page, fully scripted Instructor's Manual which contains the curriculum for the complete program and technical assistance notes on program implementation. The Kit also contains 85 Instructional Transparencies to use in teaching each program concept, strategy and skill, as well as to illustrate the African proverbs that are used in teaching the program. One copy of the Parents Handbook is included in the Kit, as is Dr. Alvy's Parent Training Today book that contains the history and evaluations of the program. The Kit also includes an audiocassette and worksheets on Generating and Maintaining Parenting Programs (which provides the latest information on successful strategies to recruit and involve parents) and attractive recruitment flyers to use in advertising the program. Also included are graduation certificates for parents. All of these materials are organized in a very attractive carrying case.

    Separate leader guides, parent guides and recruitment flyers are available for teaching and implementing the one-day seminar version of the program. To run the one-day seminar version, it is also necessary to have the Instructor's Manual and the Instructional Transparencies.

    CICC also distributes a wide range of other publications for parents of African American children which have been used as supplementary materials to the program and for broadening the education of program instructors.

  3. Program Costs: Each parent who enrolls in an EBPP class needs a Parents Handbook ($19) and each parent who enrolls in a one-day seminar needs a Parents Guide ($11). The other program costs vary depending upon which institution sponsors the delivery of the class or seminar, as each institution incurs different costs for marketing and advertising, space, refreshments, transportation, child care, and instructor fees.

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