California Families Project (CFP)

What is the California Families Project (CFP)?
  • In 2006, UC Davis, in collaboration with the Sacramento and Woodland Unified School Districts, embarked on a major study of 674 Mexican origin fifth-grade children and their parents living in Sacramento and Woodland, California.
  • The purpose of the study is to examine family, school, community, and individual characteristics that promote the child’s academic and social competence and reduce emotional and behavioral problems during childhood and adolescence.
  • The study also examines the impact of economic disadvantage in families and neighborhoods by examining processes both within and outside of the family that promote positive youth development in the face of hardship.
  • The research investigates unique cultural beliefs, values, and traditions in the Mexican-American community that affect a child’s development, and how these traditions might promote academic and social competence and reduce risk for drug use and other mental health problems.
  • The study includes families with a diverse range of incomes, education levels, and family structures, including two-parent and single-parent families.
  • The study has been funded by the federal government through 2023, allowing us to follow the CFP youth as they transition into young adult roles such as entering the workplace, finding a relationship partner, and becoming a parent.
Why is this project important?
  • The CFP is the first comprehensive, long-term longitudinal study of Mexican-origin children and their families.
  • We focus on Mexican-origin children because Latinos (two-thirds of whom are of Mexican origin) are the largest and fastest growing ethnic minority group in the United States.
  • Like many Mexican-origin children, the CFP youth face socioeconomic challenges including poverty (40%), unemployment (20%), and low educational attainment (avg. parent education = 9th grade).
  • Consequently, the CFP youth are at high risk for school dropout, emotional and behavioral problems, and long-term problems involving low-wage employment.
  • However, many Mexican-origin youth escape these risks, and the primary goal of the CFP is to identify the factors that promote success in this population.
  • New information about successful development among Mexican-origin youth will be used to design more effective community and school-based programs to promote the well-being of Mexican origin families and children.
Who funds this project?
  • National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
  • National Institute on Aging (NIA)
  • William T. Grant Foundation
  • UC Davis
Key Personnel
  • Project Director: Dr. Richard W. Robins
  • CFP Parent Grant (NIDA/NIAAA)
  • Neurobiological Bases of Depression in Mexican-Origin Youth (NIMH)
  • Individual, Family, and Cultural Factors Associated with Obesity (NICHD)
  • Development of Self-Regulation in Mexican-origin Young Children (NICHD)
  • Psychosocial Risk Factors for Cognitive Decline in Mexican-origin Adults (NIA)
    • Dr. Angelina Sutin (PI), Dr. Richard W. Robins (PI), Emilio Ferrer (Co-I)
Project Collaborators

Dr. Mayra Y. Bamaca (Penn State), Dr. Veronica Benet-Martinez (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Dr. Ana M. Cauce (University of Washington), Dr. Rick Cruz (Utah State), Dr. Brent Donnellan (Michigan State), Dr. Maciel Hernandez (Portland State), Dr. Monica Martin (Texas Tech), Dr. Ulrich Orth (University of Bern), Dr. Zoe E. Taylor (Purdue University), Dr. Eunike Wetzel (University of Konstanz)

For more information about study design and key measures, please visit:
For a list of California Families Project publications, please click here.