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Motivated by the desire to break the cycle of addiction in her own family, in 1984 Rosemary Tisch created Kids Are Special curriculum for children of addiction (COAs) based on the Children Are People model in Minnesota.  Kids Are Special (KAS) programs were implemented in San Jose and surrounding communities, a few sites throughout the US and in Mexico and the USSR (Moscow & Kiev).  In 1991 KAS merged with the largest mental health agency serving children in California (EMQ-Families First, now Uplift Family Services).  


In 1992 Rosemary formed a new nonprofit, Family Education Foundation (FEF) focused on issues faced by COAs: in-utereo exposure to alcohol and other drugs, teen pregnancy, and learning disabilities or differences. Family Education Foundation 

  • Opened a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome diagnostic clinic.

  • Created three curriculums: 

    • Young Mothers Are Strong series addressing teen pregnancy prevention, including Young Men Are Strong & Young Women Are Strong.

    • START (Success Through Awareness and Responsibility Training) teaching social skills for individuals with learning differences.  

    • Scrips an in-classroom curriculum for adolescents addressing alcohol and other drug prevention, including prescription drugs. 

All three curriculums were evaluated by outside evaluators and are evidence-based.  

In 1999 Julie Scales,  introduced Rosemary to Linda and David Sibley of Family Resources International (FRI).  Julie was the Executive Director of the Children’s Place in Redwood City, CA - Jerry Moe’s original program.  A Russian NGO (OPORA) had requested FRI’s assistance in creating a classroom-based curriculum for the Moscow school district.  As Rosemary had just completedScrips and had worked in Russia, Julie believed she could be helpful.  The outcome of this partnership was Keys to Healthy Living.  Keys is a 12-session classroom-based curriculum for 3 age levels, copyrighted by FRI in English and Russian. Keys to Healthy Living was based on Scrips, Kids Are Special, and Linda Sibley’s Confident Kidsprogram. This partnership continues to exist and has been instrumental in the development of Celebrating Families!™, the 0-3 supplement, and the translation and adaptation of CF! for Spanish speaking and Native American families.  


In 2001, Judge Leonard Edwards, Supervising Judge of the Santa Clara CA Juvenile Dependency Courts (now retired), heard of FRI’s work in Russia and said, “I want that program for my families. Thus, “Family Night” was created based on Keys to Healthy Living with funding from The Health Foundation. Early evaluation of Family Night by SAMHSA evaluators (available on-line) was outstanding.  The name, Celebrating Families!™, originated  with one of the first families to attend who stated, “This not another parenting program….this is about celebrating my family.” (This mother achieved two years of sobriety and was attending school to become an Addictions Counselor, when she was killed in an accident caused by her husband when he was released from jail.)  

As there were no evidence-based programs on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs & Practices (NREPP) focused on families in recovery with their children, FRI contracted for evaluation with Karol Kumpfer, Ph.D., Evaluator Director of LutraGroup, Professor at the University of Utah, and past Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in WDC. The NREPP evaluation process and the creation of the early childhood component (ages 3-5) of CF! were funded by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health.  


At this point, a delegation from the Moscow Dept. of Social Services visited San Jose, CA, to study our work with children removed from their families due to abuse and neglect.  In addition to visiting the Children’s Shelter and EMQ-FF (now Uplift Family Services), they attended Celebrating Families!™, being provided by Santa Clara County Department of Social Services. Upon their return to Moscow, they requested FRI to develop a program similar to Celebrating Families!™ for them.  As CF! is closely aligned with Keys to Healthy Living (already in Russian), FRI developed Keys to Healthy Families, requiring the writing and translation of only the parent and family components.  Keyswas implemented in Moscow and 23 other cities in Russia.  Program Developers have also collaborated with Adventist Disaster Relief to provide training and technical assistance for implementation of these programs in Russia in 2013.


In 2001, realizing the market for Celebrating Families!™ was going to be extensive due to its effectiveness in helping families, Family Resources International (FRI) created Prevention Partnership International, a division of FRI. As requests continue to grow, in 2005 PPI and FRI began to realize they could not adequately serve the market.  After an extensive search, the National Association for Children of Addiction (NACoA) was selected as the appropriate organization for Celebrating Families!™. With this transfer of asset, PPI/FRI staff was freed to:

  • Complete the Spanish adaptation of Celebrating Families!™¡Celebrando Familias! -which  was piloted in two sites in California (a school and community-based organization serving high risk, but unidentified families), a treatment center in Oklahoma and in a school in Argentina.  Independent evaluation confirmed the effectiveness of the model as a prevention strategy, as well as an intervention for families with substance use disorders.

  • Develop the 0-3 Supplement for families with young children, which was piloted at two residential treatment centers and a community-based organization serving families in the Dependency Drug Courts.

  • Create supplemental materials: Strengthening Parenting Lessons for treatment centers serving women with children, Intersessions to be offered between CF! series, a booklet series: Tips for Parenting Young Children, and Essential Information & Parenting Skills booklet for staff and volunteers.


All evaluations of Celebrating Families!™ have been very positive. It was the only family-based, substance-abuse prevention program on NREPP (now discontinued). CF! is currently referenced as a Best Practice for addressing the needs of the children in family drug courts according to Guidelines outlined by the National Family Drug Court TTA (Training and Technical Assistance) Program and Children & Families Futures. Celebrating Families!™

is also available for Native American communities (Wellbriety/Celebrating Families!). This Native American version incorporates its traditional cultural teachings and practices in line with the curriculum through the entire program. Research supports that CF! could be effective among different ethnic groups and a valuable resource for working in ethnically diverse communities.

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