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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1State Strategies to Support Parents of Young Children

Two recent reports from the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) provide recommendations for States to improve services and supports to parents of young children, including specific strategies for the child welfare system.

Improving Supports for Parents of Young Children: State-Level Initiatives explores the key components of early childhood systems States may address to improve parent-child interventions, parent education, and other supports for parents of young children. The authors discuss cross-system opportunities for parent support in light of new Federal funding for home visiting. Throughout the report, the authors highlight parenting initiatives in Arizona, Louisiana, New York, and Virginia. Four recommendations are made for States seeking to strengthen supports for parents with young children:

  • Use information about the characteristics of young children and families to determine the need for different types of parent programs.
  • Review existing services to determine if new or expanded programs are necessary to address unmet family needs.
  • Implement training strategies to increase provider knowledge and skills.
  • Identify cross-system opportunities for expanding parenting programs and supports.

Written by Louisa Higgins, Shannon Stagman, and Sheila Smith, the report may be downloaded from the NCCP website: (554 KB)

Supporting Parents of Young Children in the Child Welfare System considers the critical role parent training programs play in improving outcomes for families involved with child welfare. The report lists the components of evidence-informed parent training programs, criteria for selecting programs, and notable programs. It concludes with several recommendations to incorporate parent training more effectively within the child welfare system, including:

  • Adopt an outcomes-focused approach to parent education strategies.
  • Build collaborative partnerships among child welfare, courts, and service providers.
  • Encourage judges to use court orders that incorporate research-based parenting programs.
  • Tie parenting programs to parent-child visits.
  • Support a two-pronged research strategy that addresses system change and program content.

The report's appendices include information on Federal funding sources, action steps for implementing effective parent education programs, and a family visiting checklist for family court judges. The report, written by Katherine Beckmann, Jane Knitzer, and Janice Cooper, is available on the NCCP website: (294 KB)