Teaching-Family Model: Program Components

By Melvin Hayden 

A few weeks ago, I started to ask myself how I could help parents and teachers in the moment. The moment I am speaking of is the moment you realize your child has grown up and many of the things that worked as a youth have become a struggle. On the other hand, as a teacher, the methods I have been using for years are dated or my lingo is not so popular anymore. So, I thought about the Teaching-Family Model Method. What is the Teaching-Family Model? It is an evidence-based program used throughout the country to help youth and their families deal with physically, emotionally and sexually abused children, delinquent, emotionally disturbed, autistic and medically fragile children. The Teaching-Family Model teaches the skills they need to lead a productive and satisfying life. It is one of the only childcare models that is well-defined and therefore can be effectively replicated. In this article, I am going to introduce the program components that make up the Teaching-Family Model. However, our next edition will dig a little deeper as to how this can be effective for you. Think about how the components of the Teaching-Family Model line up with you and your style of education or parenting.  We may decide to make Part 2 an episode on our podcast, so be on the lookout so you don’t miss it!

The Teaching-Family Model is made up of 6 Program Components

Teaching Procedures

The Teaching Procedures are five teaching methods used by teaching parents to encourage and motivate youths to learn and acquire skills. Check out the list below.


  • Effective Praise used to strengthen and reward desired behaviors

  • Teaching Interaction used to correct unwanted behaviors

  • Planned Teaching used to teach new skills and help prevent behavioral issues from occurring

  • Intensive Teaching used as an intervention strategy to help youth manage their anger

  • Problem Solving used to help youth learn to solve their problems in positive ways. When appropriate, a motivation system is used to increase the child’s interest and success in learning new behaviors and skills. The motivation system incorporates the use of reinforces that can be tangible, social, or based on a token exchange.

Self- Government

Self-government is a comprehensive approach to enhance each youth’s regular and active participation in making decisions that affect the home, themselves and the other youth in the program, while teaching responsibility, leadership and problem-solving skills. Self-government consists of three main parts:


Family conference, which is a daily meeting in the home to help youth learn to solve problems, plan activities and learn leadership skills. The manager system, which is a peer leadership system that allows one youth to take on additional responsibilities in the home.

Peer reporting, which is a method for youth to learn the responsibility of helping one another.

Relationship Development

Relationship Development refers to the process of building mutually positive relationships between youths and the teaching parents. Positive relationships help the child feel safe, secure and valued while learning the importance of living together as a family. Positive relationships will also increase the chances that youths will learn the positive social behaviors that teaching parents model.

Young student doing homework at home wit
Doing Homework
Girl in Therapy


Counseling is defined as those opportunities provided by teaching parents for youths in the group home to talk about personal problems, consider options and make decisions that affect their lives and the operation of the group home. It is also a time that allows the teaching parents opportunities to express concern, affection, respect, interest, support and to teach rational problem-solving skills. This is done by the use of a counseling technique called SODAS-F which is a guided process that allows the youth to define the situation, weigh the benefits of options and select a solution.

Family Style Living

Family Style Living can be best characterized by the relaxed and comfortable atmosphere of the home that promotes a safe and secure environment where relationships can thrive. The home is decorated and operated as close as possible to a family home within the community so children can learn how to form relationships and work together as a family unit. The home reflects the culture of all the members of the family and provides opportunities for the family unit to participate in fun activities together.

Consumer Involvement

As mentioned earlier, teaching parents actively communicate and cooperate with consumers in the community who are actively involved with the children in placement. Consumers include the youth’s family, teachers, care manager, social workers, probation officers, therapists, mentors, etc... The goal is to build strong relationships with others who play an important role in the children’s lives and build a strong treatment team to work cooperatively for the best interest of the children.


Fixsen, D.L.; Blasé, K.; Timbers, G.D. & Wolf, M.M. (2007). In Search of Program Implementation: 792 Replications of the Teaching-Family Model. The Behavior Analyst Today, 8(1), 96–114 BAO

 Bernfeld, G.A.; Blase, K.A. & Fixsen, D.L. (2006). Towards a Unified Perspective on Human Service Delivery Systems: Application of the Teaching-Family Model. The Behavior Analyst Today, 7(2), 168–74 BAO

 See review by Kingsley, D.; Ringle, J.L.; Thompson, R.W.; Chmelka, B. & Ingram, S. (2008). Cox Proportional Hazards Regression Analysis as a Modeling Technique for Informing Program Improvement: Predicting Recidivism in a Boys Town Five-Year Follow-up Study. Journal of Behavior Analysis of Offender and Victim: Treatment and Prevention, 1(1), 82–97 BAO

 Kingsley, D. (2006). The Teaching-Family Model and Post-Treatment Recidivism: A Critical Review of the Conventional Wisdom. International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy, 2, 481–96. BAO

 Underwood, L.E.; Tallbott, L.B.; Mosholder, E. & von Dresen, K. (2008). Methodological concerns of residential treatment facilities and recidivism for juvenile offenders with disruptive behavior disorders. The Journal of Behavior Analysis of Offender and Victim: Treatment and Prevention, 1(2), 214–28. BAO