• February 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 1

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Parent Involvement Programs That Work

Parent involvement programs can play a significant role in enhancing parents' ability to help their children acquire or strengthen the behaviors, skills, attitudes, and motivation that promote physical and mental health and overall well-being. Child Trends has produced two factsheets that synthesize findings from rigorous evaluations of parent involvement programs. The factsheets identify the components and strategies associated with successful programs and also indicate gaps in research, particularly the need to better recruit and engage parents.

In What Works for Parent Involvement Programs for Children: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Social Interventions, researchers synthesized findings from 67 rigorous evaluations of parent involvement interventions for children 6-11 years old. The authors conclude that programs that actively engaged parents generally had positive impacts, while parent education-only programs generally had few effects. In addition, 10 of 12 programs that integrated technology into their interventions had positive impacts on at least one child outcome. The report concludes that the role of parents in improving children's well-being could be better understood by engaging in more evaluations that compare the relative effectiveness of parent-only, child-only, and "parent plus" intervention conditions.

In What Works for Parent Involvement Programs for Adolescents: Lessons From Experimental Evaluations of Social Interventions, researchers synthesized the findings from 47 rigorous evaluations of parent involvement interventions for adolescents. Nearly two-thirds of parent involvement programs were found to be effective and included at least one of the following types of interventions:

  • Built parenting skills
  • Included family and teen-focused therapeutic interventions
  • Focused on intervention components for both parents and teens
  • Offered at least five sessions

On the other hand, parent education programs that offered only parent information but no opportunity for parents to practice related skills tended to have little or no impact. Positive impacts for parent involvement programs were least likely to occur for substance use, education, and reproductive health outcomes.

Both factsheets include tables of outcomes for each program, as well as a synopsis of each program and its components. The factsheets are available on the Child Trends website:

http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs008/1101701160827/archive/1102882009771.html

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