Nurturing Families of Arkansas (NFA)

Nurturing the Families of Arkansas (NFA) began in January 2015 as one of six federal  IV-E Waiver interventions in the state.  This DCFS-sponsored initiative is a “demonstration” project  for families in which there is an active in-home protective services case, at least one child in the home is between the ages of 5 and 11, and substance misuse (if applicable) does not prevent the family from participating in sessions.

Developed from the evidence-based Nurturing Parenting Program, written by Dr. Stephen Bavolek, Nurturing the Families of Arkansas is an intensive, 16-session family intervention with assessments conducted at identified phases (prior, during, and after) throughout the education process.  All NFA lessons are competency-based, allowing both parents and parent educators to track the progress in learning new parenting skills. It is important to note that all sessions include concurrent parent and children’s sessions, as well as allocated time practicing the skills as a family.  The 16 sessions –  2.5 hours each – can be delivered in a group-based setting, home-based setting, or a combination of settings.  Individualized tutorials are provided, as needed.  Graduating families have demonstrated the lesson competencies and are no longer in the high-risk range as indicated by the program assessment tool, the Comprehensive Parenting Inventory.

The research-driven lessons of NFA are based on five parenting constructs known to be protective factors with families where child abuse and/or neglect are present or at risk of occurring.  The goal of NFA is to address the critical factors that underlie child maltreatment and to teach ways to nurture, guide, and discipline children in nurturing, positive ways.  Through teaching, modeling, and reinforcing positive behaviors in both parents and children, the NFA program builds on the empirical data that supports the following nurturing practices:  1.) Understanding age-appropriate developmental expectations for each child; 2.) Developing a sense of caring and compassion for self, others, and the environment; 3.) Providing children with positive discipline; 4.) Increasing self-awareness and appropriate family roles; and 5.) Developing a healthy sense of empowerment in both parents and children.

The long-term anticipated outcomes of this program are to greatly reduce the rates of recidivism as well as the number of children entering foster care.