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CFR: a powerful engine for examining family life

Alan Flurry

Very nice feature story on Triple Dawg Tracy Anderson, assistant director at the Center for Family Research, from our colleagues in the UGA Office of Research. A rich vein of longitudinal research, the Center for Family Research was established in 1985 as an integral part of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research (OIBR). The purpose was to bring together scholars from diverse disciplines to explore innovative and dynamic ways of examining family life. The Center quickly became very successful in stimulating intellectual interchange and enhancing its members’ ability to obtain extramural funding. Grant-supported projects focused on family processes, family stress, and prevention/intervention efforts are woven throughout several Franklin units and particularly the department of psychology, and continue to attract the best young research faculty and graduate students to UGA.

About 35 years ago, Gene Brody, co-director of the center, began following more than 600 families for over a decade and identified caregiving and parenting practices that forecasted doing well in school, having good emotional health, and avoidance of drugs and risky behaviors for youth in the families.

The findings were significant and contributed much to the scientific literature on family development and parenting. But Brody realized the findings could have a direct effect on the development of Black children and their families if those findings were used to encourage families to engage in competence-promoting parenting practices. So the center set about developing what would eventually be known as the Strong African American Families program (SAAF)—a seven-week, community-based workshop for families and youth aged 10 to 14 that builds on the strength of Black families. Prior to this work, “there were no efficacious prevention programs for Black children and youth,” said Brody.

Not long before the center started testing the effectiveness of SAAF (and finding it is very effective), Anderson found an opportunity to join CFR helping with a research project on single mothers. Eventually, she began helping with training and disseminating SAAF.

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Image: Tracy Anderson meets with Anita Brown, associate director of the Center for Family Research. (Photo by David Pollock)

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