Research and Training Projects

Common Components of Parenting Programs for Children Birth to Eight Years of Age
Involved With Child Welfare Services

Richard P. Barth, Kyla Liggett-Creel

Parent training programs have a long history of use in children's mental health and child welfare services. Several prominent models have more than 30 years of development and considerable data backing their effectiveness. Many agencies are intently seeking to provide evidence-based parenting interventions. Relying on ratings from the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, this paper reviews the highest rated parenting interventions for children ages birth-3 and 4-8. The data show that the interventions for children birth-3 have less robust evidence behind their effectiveness but that higher rated programs share some emerging prin­ciples and a few common components. Programs designed for children 4-8 have considerably more evidence and appear to have substantial convergence of principals and common components. The authors propose that the use of the common components of parenting interventions for children 4-8 is likely to yield success even without a specific, manualized intervention that has previously been rigorously tested. 

The Incredible Years
Sarah Dababnah, PhD, MPH, MSW

Sarah Dababnah, PhD, MPH, MSW, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work, is the Principal Investigator of research testing The Incredible Years parenting program for caregivers of young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Incredible Years has been widely used to reduce parenting stress and improve child behavior and socioemotional functioning. Yet, there have been no rigorous studies of the program’s effectiveness for parents raising children with autism. Dr. Dababnah is leading a four-year randomized controlled trial to compare The Incredible Years with a parent support group. Findings from this study will inform future use of The Incredible Yearsin the autism community, as well as contribute to the currently limited body of literature on interventions to reduce parenting stress in this population.

The Parent University Program: Factors Predicting Change in Responsive Parenting Behaviors
Kyla Liggett-Creel, MSW

There are few evidence-based parenting programs for children under the age of three and even fewer have been rigorously evaluated in comparison to parenting programs for older children (Barth & Liggett-Creel, 2014). Parenting programs such as Child-Parent Psychotherapy, Circle of Security, Promoting First Relationships, Chicago Parent Program, and Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up have shown positive outcomes. Common components are beginning to be identified in successful parenting programs for families with children ages birth to three years old. The Parent University Program (PUP) integrates common components of five evidence-based interventions for children birth through three years old. Parent-child dyads (N=86) participated in the parenting program with the goal of increasing responsive parenting skills. This study aims to assess the changes that may occur in responsive parenting behaviors that promote social emotional growth, cognitive growth, sensitivity to cues, and responding to the distress of their child. Results will add to parenting program research on the use of common components, real world implementation and evaluation, and the use of peers as facilitators. Participants of the PUP showed a significant increase in responsive parenting behaviors. Participants who completed pre-test, post-test, and follow-up assessments showed a significant change from clinical to non-clinical status after attending the PUP. Neither the type of facilitator nor the number of hours attended showed an association with changing parenting behaviors. The age of the child was associated with the change in responsive parenting. Older children had higher scores at pre-test and showed less change over time. The results of this research suggest that further evaluation is warranted with more rigorous study design including a randomized clinical trial.

Scaling Up Quality Parenting Initiative: Building the Platform for Rigorous Evaluation and Broader Dissemination
Ericka M. Lewis, PhD, LMSW

Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, evaluability and implementation process evaluations are being conducted of existing Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) sites. QPI is an approach to strengthening foster care, by focusing on excellent parenting for all children in the child welfare system, and has been adopted in over 75 jurisdictions across 10 states. This mixed methods study (1) examines the role of organizational context on the implementation of QPI, 2) tests the relationship between QPI’s implementation process and quality improvement among agencies serving foster care families, and 3) explores foster care families’ perception of and engagement in evidence-based services. Study findings will generate valuable insights into the barriers, facilitators, and effective strategies for implementing evidence-informed foster care services.

Partners for Parenting (P4P) Project

Funded by the USDHHS, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (2011-2017, ~$2mm), the Partners for Parenting (P4P) project is one of six Early Head Start-University Partnerships comprising the federal Buffering Toxic Stress Research Consortium. In collaboration with Brenda Jones Harden, Professor of Human Development at the University of Maryland College Park, and six Early Head Start programs in the greater Washington, DC area, the P4P project implemented and evaluated an enhanced model of Early Head Start that combined home-based Early Head Start with Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (Dozier & Bernard, 2017), a brief, evidence-based parenting intervention. This randomized trial included 208 low-income mothers and their 6- to 18-month-old infants. Most (87%) of the mothers were Latina; 91% of the study participants reported being born outside of the US. Qualitative findings from initial pilot studies have indicated strong feasibility and acceptance of this model, with both EHS mothers and staff attesting to its unique benefits (Aparicio, Denmark,  Berlin, & Jones Harden, 2016; West, Aparicio, Berlin, & Jones Harden, 2017 [attached]). Key outcomes currently being analyzed include observed parenting behaviors and infant and mother stress regulation, measured behaviorally and through analysis of infant and mother cortisol production.