Effectiveness of a parent training program "Incredible Years" in a child protection service

Marie-Josée Letarte, Sylvie Normandeau, Julie Allard
Child Abuse & Neglect 2010, 34 (4): 253-61

OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a parent training program in improving parenting practices, parents' feeling of self-efficacy and parents' perception of their child's behavior, implemented in a child protection service, with trained professionals from the agency acting as facilitators.

METHOD: Thirty-five parents monitored in a child protection service for child neglecting behaviors participated either in the intervention group (n=26) or were on the waiting list (n=9). The program implemented (Incredible Years) lasted 16 weeks, was in a group format, and aimed: (1) to develop a harmonious parent-child relationship; (2) to support parents in learning and consistently applying effective practices; (3) to improve problem solving and communication skills within families and with teachers. A repeated measures design was used to test the program's effects on parenting practices, parents' feeling of self-efficacy, parents' perception of their child's behavior, and parents' satisfaction. Parents were tested twice, during a 19-week interval, before and after the parent training program.

RESULTS: Analyses of variance comparing Intervention and Control groups with repeated measures (pre- and post-test measures) revealed that the program has a positive impact on parenting practices (harsh discipline, physical punishment, praise/incentive, appropriate discipline and positive verbal discipline) and parents' perception of their child's behavior (frequency of behavioral problems and number of problematic behaviors). No change on clear expectations from parents, or on parents' self-efficacy was observed.

CONCLUSION: Though the implementation of an evidence-based parent training program by professionals in a child protection service presents specific challenges, results suggest that it can contribute to improvements in parenting practices and in parents' perception of their child's behavior.

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