• January 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 1

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Engaging Parents Online

Even with the presence of in-person, evidence-based parenting programs aimed at reducing child maltreatment, many high-risk parents face barriers to participation, including logistical difficulties, the stigma of attendance, and availability within their communities. A recent article in the Journal of Public Child Welfare—"Enhancing Accessibility and Engagement in Evidence-Based Parenting Programs to Reduce Maltreatment: Conversations With Vulnerable Parents"—assessed the potential for online programs to reach high-risk parents.

The study team conducted 11 focus groups with 160 Black and Hispanic parents in high-poverty situations in Los Angeles County, CA, to determine their views on the acceptability, feasibility, and helpfulness of participating in a parenting program in an online format—both with and without a social media component. At the beginning of each focus group, the parents viewed 35 minutes of clips of the online version of the Triple P—Positive Parenting Program, an evidence-based program. The parents in the focus group all were participants in a parenting program other than Triple P. The study team also used an Internet survey to assess the Internet usage of 238 additional parents.

An analysis of the focus group discussions showed that most parents were enthusiastic about the online program, thought it would be convenient, and saw the potential value to them as parents, especially using the social media component to learn through shared experiences. Some parents, however, expressed concerns about learning on a social networking site and Internet accessibility.

The Internet usage component of the study showed that 78 percent of the parents had Internet access, 63 percent had an email account, and 33 percent used social networking sites (e.g., Facebook). These findings highlight the feasibility of reaching this population through a parenting program that uses an online social networking format.

"Enhancing Accessibility and Engagement in Evidence-Based Parenting Programs to Reduce Maltreatment: Conversations With Vulnerable Parents," by Susan M. Love, Matthew R. Sanders, Carol W. Metzler, Ronald J. Prinz, and Elizabeth Z. Kast, Journal of Public Child Welfare, 7(1), 2013, is available for purchase here:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15548732.2012.701837

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