John Howard New Brunswick FIDO Strengthening Families



The Fighting Illicit Drugs as One project helps justice-involved youth with addictions issues and their families. The program is based on the internationally recognized Strengthening Families Program and is designed to improve communication, understanding and build family relationships. The program is running in three culturally unique communities within New Brunswick.

Susan O'Neill:

Program Manager, John Howard Society of New Brunswick: Our project is called FIDO which is fighting illicit drugs as one. And within the project the program that we deliver is the Strengthening Families Program. Though the John Howard of New Brunswick in Campbellton, a rural area of the province, and Tobique First Nations, and St. John urban.

We looked at the different types of programs that were available that we could provide and did a lot of research until I found the Strengthening Families Program which has been provided all over the world.

It's a program that is very welcoming to different cultural differences and that is how it is so successful. That ability that we could take the different cultures and mesh it into the actual programming itself.

Jon Pitre:

Criminologist, Restigouche Family Services: In northern New Brunswick as in, here, in Campbellton, we have an Anglophone and Francophone and also First Nations communities.

It's a program that, on a national as well as international level, has been proven to work very well.

Charles Nicholas:

Treatment Councellor, Tobique Wellness Centre: We are a small community, 95% unemployment. What makes it unique is these kids are learning more about their culture, and we can tailor, this program to fit our language. All our language is descriptive. There are no derogatory words there are no negative phrases. I think that is the best way to get these kids off the streets is to keep them positive.

Susan O'Neill:

Program Manager, John Howard Society of New Brunswick: We begin with what we call the meal. Which is usually a mom and dad with the young person that is having some difficulties. That is sort of an icebreaker in itself. They get to know each other a little bit more, they are starting to feel that they are not alone.

And then we separate the parents into one room. And two facilitators are with the children, and they're talking to the children about different concepts. Communication, and discipline, and all these different types of things that every family would be struggling over at one time or another. And they start to bring it into focus from the parents view. And then at the end of these two sessions get the families to engage in role-playing and activities together.

It seems to be very effective. Very very quickly what we found is that the children enjoy it. They want to come back.

We have found challenges. What we're finding is that we have sporadic probation youth at different time periods. We may have a few youth that are ready for the program, we may not have another few that will be ready until halfway through.

One of the things that we did do was we called the developers of the program right away. What was decided upon at the time, that what would be in the best interest of all of the locations is if we had split the program to seven sessions or double but have five families go through.

That has made it much more easy to be able to get the youth that are on probation that really need the program into it in the St. John location.

It comes down to being able to identify probation youth. Enough to come into the program at the set time that the program will be beginning.

So my first advice would be that they really look at the population base to ensure that they would have the amount of children that one time to begin a program.

Jon Pitre:

Criminologist, Restigouche Family Services: Another problem that we have here in New Brunswick is the multiculturalism, either French or English. This can cause a small problem with how to deliver the program.

Susan O'Neill:

Program Manager, John Howard Society of New Brunswick: We had five families that went through. Three of those families are excelling and they continue to excel. You see a lot of positive results but even though there may be some difficulties in other areas, the illicit drug use is something that we believe has definitely shown true to the evaluations of this program to begin with. It really tackled that area.

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The Fighting Illicit Drugs as One pilot project received funding through the Youth Justice Fund Drug Treatment Component. Funding for this component is provided under the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

For more information about funding under the National Anti-Drug Strategy, please visit

©Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, represented by Justice Canada, 2011.

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