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Celebrating Families!


 California Celebrating Families!™ Expansion Project CF!

Contact: Melissa Santos  (408) 665-4918 

“Protective factors, particularly stable relationships with caring and supportive adults, are essential in counterbalancing the effects of adversity. Individuals who exhibit greater biological sensitivity to both adverse and positive experiences thrive when supportive and protective relationships are available.” (“A Critical Assessment of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study at 20 years. McEwen & Gregerson American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019 9;56 (6) 790-794.)

“Focusing on a parent’s ability to buffer their children’s stress through supportive/ responsive caregiving; positive relationships; and consistent, supportive caregiving has the potential to prevent or mitigate the harmful effects of adverse childhood experiences.” (U.S. Administration for Children and Families, 2013)


Celebrating Families!™ (CF!) is an evidence-based, trauma-informed, skill building program focused on children's future physical and behavioral health, including substance use disorders and mental health challenges. The program was developed originally for families in Dependency Drug Courts dealing with or at high risk for multiple problems: substance use disorders; multi-generational trauma; physical and mental health challenges; cognitive deficits due to trauma, genetics or in-utero exposure; and child abuse/neglect and family violence. All are significant Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The program has now been used in a multitude of settings from churches, to schools, and with community-based agencies serving families at-risk for child abuse/neglect and family violence funded by the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP).

Celebrating Families!™ consists of 16 sessions serving the whole family: children ages birth-18, their parents and caregivers. Each session includes a family meal, a 90 minute age-appropriate instructional session, and a 30-minute family activity where families practice the skills they are learning. The program is distinctive as it:

  • Utilizes an intergenerational, multi-family approach, demonstrably improving rates of family reunification, while reducing time to reunification.

  • Uses strength-based, trauma-informed strategies to increase healthy living skills, helping parents/caregivers comprehend the critical importance of basic healthy behaviors, such as nutrition and sleep for the whole family

  • Adapts teaching to be appropriate for families dealing with or at risk for substance use, learning differences and mental health challenges.

  • Focuses on breaking the cycles of addiction and abuse/violence in families by addressing substance use and mental health challenges in every session.

  • Gives parents dealing with addiction needed skills to build healthy, non-violent relationships with their children, stay sober, and begin to heal.

Celebrating Families!™ is effective because it recognizes that addiction is both developmental (beginning in adolescence or childhood, when the brain is undergoing change) and multi-generational (the parent with a substance use disorder (SUD) often being the child or grandchild of an addict.)

  • Children whose parents are dealing with SUDs are four times more likely to develop addiction.

  • 50-80% of child welfare cases involve parental SUDs (SAMHSA, 2009).

  • Children in the child welfare system whose parents are dealing with a SUD are more likely to experience lengthier stays in out-of-home placement, recurrent involvement with child welfare services, and lower rates of family reunification. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS], 2009).

Basic Program: Usually offered in the evening or on Saturdays for children ages 4-17, their parents and caregivers. The 16-session program teaches skills to help families heal, understand addiction, and build healthy, non-violent relationships, reducing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). It includes dinner, age-appropriate groups, and a Family Time, with take-home “Caregiver Pages.”


0-3 Supplement: Specifically developed for families with younger children, the 16-session supplement includes the Basic Program’s instruction on Healthy Living Skills, with an additional emphasis on “Critical Parenting Skills” for young children: Attachment (affirming), Following Children’s Lead, Baby Cues, Sportscasting, Turn Taking, Talking and Playing, and the Importance of Continuity and Repetition. It includes a Family Time (for children 0-3) offered before the meal, a meal, age-appropriate groups (infants, toddlers, and early childhood) with take-home “Caregiver Pages” for each age group. 


Research supports that CF! could be effective among different ethnic groups and a valuable resource for working in ethnically diverse communities. 

¡Celebrando Familias!Celebrating Families!™ and the 0-3 Supplement are available for mono-lingual Spanish speaking families.

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Wellbriety/Celebrating Families!: Celebrating Families!™ for Native American communities was developed by White Bison and incorporates its traditional cultural teachings and practices in line with the curriculum through the entire program. The Wellbriety partnership provides Native communities with the opportunity to implement a program for healing families affected by alcohol and drug abuse, that recognizes and incorporates traditional cultural teachings and practices. 


Training: Celebrating Families™!(CF!) training is for professionals and potential volunteers who are interested in learning how to facilitate this  program. The two and a half day training provides the framework to a program site planning to offer CF! to its clients and the broader community, introducing fundamentals unique to the program and some of the complex challenges and subtle nuances sites have encountered when facilitating sessions with diverse families, with children of varying ages. A key offering throughout the trainings is practical experience with program exercises and activities. 

Celebrating Families!™ and Celebrando Familias! are distributed by the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA).

For more information, see or contact or call 301-468-0985

For more information on Wellbriety/Celebrating Families! contact White Bison at or call 877-871-1495

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