GETTING rid of guns and increasing police presence is not enough to deal with violence - social services focused on families are essential.

Philadelphia has nearly lost faith in parents and is looking for solutions that leave them out. Social-service agencies and faith-based initiatives all over the United States are using family-focused programs to deal with violence, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, delinquency and early sexual behavior.

My job is to train professionals and help implement the Strengthening Families Program, an exemplary, evidence-based, family-focused program that works with parents, children and teens.

It's frustrating that my own city fails to latch on to a program that works and is more cost-effective than providing programs just for parents, and separate ones just for children or teens.

Six years ago, I helped start this program in Delaware, where it's statewide and highly successful. New Jersey funds 54 Strengthening Families sites.

No, strengthening Philadelphia's families will not happen overnight. But in a short while, we may find ourselves getting back to the small-town values that attracted me to this beautiful city 30 years ago.

Wadine Toliaferro