Early Risers “Skills for Success”

An evidence-based prevention program for children and families

The Early Risers program is a multicomponent program that targets elementary school children 6 to 12 years of age who are experiencing early adjustment difficulties that may be linked to later risky behaviors, such as substance use. Early Risers is based on the premise that early, comprehensive, and sustained intervention is necessary to target multiple risk and protective factors.

In May of 2001 the Early Risers “Skills for Success” program was recognized as an exemplary substance abuse prevention program by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention’s National Registry of Effective Prevention Programs. Additionally, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention selected Early Risers as Title V Effective Program and NIDA recognized Early Risers as a NIDA Research Based Program.

Program Background

Over a 10-year period, Early Risers evolved from a school-based intervention delivered by teachers and expert consultants to a community-based intervention delivered by community providers. The program uses integrated child-, school-, and family-focused interventions to move at-risk children onto a more adaptive development pathway. Several variations of the program now exist, each contextualized to accommodate both urban and rural implementation. 

Program Components


Summer child skills program

  • Social emotional skills training
  • Literature appreciation
  • Creative activities

School year child skills program

  • Social emotional skills training
  • Literature appreciation

School support program

  • Monitoring: Assessing and monitoring needs
  • Mentoring: 1:1 school-based meetings


Parent education and skills training

  • PEAK Family Nights

Family support

  • Case management
  • Mental health and/or community service referrals