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DARE To Be You

Ages 2-5

Rating: Level 1


DARE To Be You (DTBY) combines three supporting aspects—educational activities for children, strategies for the parents or teachers, and environmental structures—to enable program participants to learn and practice the desired skills. The program includes a preschool activity book for children ages 2–5 and developmentally appropriate curricula for children in kindergarten through second grade, in grades 3–5, and in grades 6–8. High school students use a curriculum that encourages them to become teachers or leaders within their communities. DARE is an acronym for the key constructs of the program:

Decision-making, reasoning skills, and problem-solving
Assertive communication and social skills
Responsibility (internal locus of control/attributions) and role models
Esteem, efficacy, and empathy

DTBY seeks to improve parent and child protective factors by improving parents’ sense of competence and satisfaction with being parents, providing parents with knowledge and understanding of a multilevel, primary prevention program that targets Native American, Hispanic, African-American, and white parents and their preschool children. Each of the program components is based on ecological models of human development, social-cognitive theory, and theories of reasoning about moral and social problems.

The program is designed to significantly lower the risk of future substance abuse and other high-risk activities by dramatically improving parent and child protective factors in communication, problem-solving, self-esteem, and family skills. The family component—which offers parents, youths, and families training and activities for teaching self-responsibility, personal and parenting efficacy, communication and social skills, and problem-solving and decision-making skills—consists of an initial 12-week family workshop series (30 hours) and semiannual 12-hour reinforcing family workshops. School and community component participants have the same 15-hour training requirement.


The evaluation randomly selected families into control and experimental groups. A total of 496 intervention and 301 control parents began the initial high-risk assessment project. Families were recruited through community agencies such as departments of health, mental health, housing agencies, court systems, the Urban League, and Head Start and daycare programs. Families were ethnically diverse (Hispanic, Native American, African-American, white) and low-income, and most had a history of substance abuse.

DTBY was implemented in four sites in Colorado that differed in their social ecology (Colorado Springs, Montezuma County, San Luis Valley, and Ute Mountain Site at Four Corners). Families in each group completed a battery of pretests and 1- and 2-year follow-up surveys. The experimental group also completed a posttest (Classroom Environment Scale) immediately after completing a 12-week, 20-plus-hour intervention. Program staff completed preprogram and postprogram surveys on the participating youths. In addition to the outcome variables measured, process measures included workshop environment scales and workshop log sheets that documented activities, staff, participants, and the environment of each workshop.


The results of the evaluation found the following:

  • Better child self-management and family communication reported by families.
  • A statistically significant decrease or delay in onset of alcohol and tobacco use in the experimental group compared with controls.
  • A significant increase in satisfaction with support systems and self-sufficiency.
  • Increase in positive parenting techniques (most favored were effective communication skills and using time-out).
  • Forty-five percent of the families had a father figure participate and complete the intervention.

Risk Factors


  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use
  • Life stressors
  • Mental disorder/Mental health problem/Conduct disorder
  • Poor refusal skills
  • Teen parenthood


  • Broken home
  • Family history of the problem behavior/Parent criminality
  • Family management problems/Poor parental supervision and/or monitoring
  • Family transitions
  • Family violence
  • Having a young mother
  • Low parent education level/Illiteracy
  • Maternal depression
  • Parental use of physical punishment/Harsh and/or erratic discipline practices
  • Pattern of high family conflict


  • Negative attitude toward school/Low bonding/Low school attachment/Commitment to school


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs
  • Economic deprivation/Poverty/Residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood
  • Neighborhood youth in trouble

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers
  • Positive / Resilient temperament
  • Positive expectations / Optimism for the future
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social competencies and problem-solving skills


  • Effective parenting
  • Good relationships with parents / Bonding or attachment to family
  • Having a stable family
  • High expectations
  • Opportunities for prosocial family involvement
  • Rewards for prosocial family involvement


  • High expectations of students
  • High quality schools / Clear standards and rules
  • Strong school motivation / Positive attitude toward school
  • Student bonding (attachment to teachers, belief, commitment)


  • Clear social norms / Policies with sanctions for violations and rewards for compliance
  • Presence and involvement of caring, supportive adults
  • Prosocial opportunities for participation / Availability of neighborhood resources


  • SAMHSA: Model Programs
  • OJJDP/CSAP: Strengthen Families


Fritz, J.J.; Jan Miller–Heyl; J. Kreutzer; and D. MacPhee. 1995. “Fostering Personal Teaching Efficacy Through Staff Development and Classroom Activities.” Journal of Educational Research 88(4):200–208.

Miller–Heyl, Jan, D. MacPhee, and J.J. Fritz. 1998. “DARE To Be You: A Family Support, Early Prevention Program.” Journal of Primary Prevention 18(3):257–85.

———. 2001. “DARE To Be You: A Systems Approach to the Early Prevention of Problem Behaviors.” New York, N.Y.: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.


Jan Miller–Heyl, M.S.
Colorado State University
215 North Linden, Suite E
Cortez, CO 81321
Phone: (970) 565-3606
Fax: (970) 565-4641

Technical Assistance Provider

Jan Miller–Heyl, M.S.
Colorado State University
215 North Linden, Suite E
Cortez, CO 81321
Phone: (970) 565-3606
Fax: (970) 565-4641
Web site: