• April 2010
  • Vol. 11, No. 3

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Parenting Programs Improve Child Outcomes

Intended to provide caregivers with the information, skills, support, and services they need to address the developmental needs of their children and prepare them for adulthood, parenting programs play an important role in child well-being. In fact, according to a recent report from Partnership for America’s Economic Success (PAES), parenting education can potentially break the intergenerational transmission of negative social problems such as poverty, violence, and family instability. Effective parenting education has also shown promise for financial benefits to society by stemming child maltreatment, school failure, and criminal activity.

The PAES report, which seeks to understand the economic benefits to society of investing in effective parenting education programs, reviewed 10 rigorously evaluated programs shown to be effective in improving parenting and/or child outcomes. The programs showed that parenting education programs can affect parenting attitudes, knowledge, skills, and disciplinary practices, as well as children's health, safety, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Unfortunately, there was insufficient data on longer-term impacts and limited data on cost-effectiveness. However, the report does provide estimates for cost-effectiveness for the two programs that showed reductions in child maltreatment (Nurse Family Partnership and Parent Education Program for Teen Mothers). In the cases of these programs, reducing maltreatment among adolescents could lead to annual crime-related savings between $9.9 million and $16.2 million and an estimated cost savings of between $506 and $1.65 billion in lost future productivity.

The report's authors make recommendations about future research on parenting programs, focusing on the need to gather long-term impact data and cost savings data.

The PAES report, Developmental and Economic Effects of Parenting Programs for Expectant Parents and Parents of Preschool-age Children, by Sharon M. McGroder and Allison Hyra, is available online:

www.partnershipforsuccess.org/docs/researchproject_mcgroder_200903_paper.pdf (1,088 KB)

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Casey Family Programs and the Louisiana Department of Social Services, Office of Community Services, conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of Louisiana's Nurturing Parenting Program, a 16-week group and home-based program that targets parents and other caregivers of infants, toddlers, and preschool children involved in the child welfare system. Researchers assessed the changes in parental attitudes of 564 participants involved in the child welfare system following an allegation of abuse or neglect of one or more children in their care. The study found that the program was successful in retaining clients, improving parental attitudes toward childrearing, and reducing repeat maltreatment.

Evaluation of the Statewide Implementation of a Parent Education Program in Louisiana’s Child Welfare Agency: The Nurturing Parenting Program for Infants, Toddlers, and Pre-School Children, by Rhenda H. Hodnett, Karen Faulk, Amy Dellinger, and Erin Maher, is available on the Casey Family Programs website:

www.casey.org/Resources/Publications/pdf/EvaluationParentEdLA_FR.pdf (967 KB)

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