Family Spirit® Meets HHS Criteria Meets HHS criteria for an evidenced based model in tribal populations

Last updated: 2016

Model overview

Theoretical approach

The Family Spirit conceptual framework is based on G.R. Patterson’s model that posits parenting as the critical link between parents’ personal characteristics and environmental context and children’s individual risks and outcomes. The Family Spirit intervention seeks to promote mothers’ parenting skills while assisting them in developing coping and problem-solving skills to overcome individual and environmental stressors.

The model also incorporates traditional tribal teachings throughout the curriculum. The model developers believe that cultural teachings are protective factors that can improve maternal and child health in American Indian communities.

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Model services

Paraprofessional home visitors meet with families in their homes. The home visitors try to establish a close rapport with families to facilitate delivery of the curriculum, which consists of 63 lessons within the following six domains: (1) prenatal care, (2) infant care, (3) child development, (4) toddler care, (5) life skills, and (6) healthy living. The home visitors also refer families to community resources to address specific needs.

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Intended population

Family Spirit serves pregnant women and families with children younger than age 3. The developer strongly recommends enrolling mothers prenatally. Family Spirit was designed to be implemented with American Indian families. However, it is now also used with non-Native populations with high maternal and child behavioral health disparities.

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Where to find out more

Allison Ingalls
Program Manager
Phone: (716) 406-3376
Email: or

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