Rapid evidence assessment of interventions for parents of young vulnerable children

A key aspect of our work at the Parenting Research Centre involves helping policymakers, service agency leaders and practitioners choose interventions that are effective and well suited to their service context.  

The New Zealand Government Social Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (previously known as the Families Commission), commissioned us to review parenting interventions to determine which ones have the best evidence for improving outcomes of vulnerable young children within families.

Together with our client we decided to focus on families of children aged up to six years who have been exposed to, or are at risk of, abuse or neglect.  

This commission recognised our expertise in conducting rigorous reviews of the international scientific literature to address policy and practice questions. We employed a rapid evidence assessment (REA) methodology to learn more about the evidence for parenting interventions.

We also conducted a common elements analysis using the interventions found to have better evidence. This process helped us identify aspects of intervention delivery and content that were common across these interventions.

The final report, Evidence review: An analysis of the evidence for parenting interventions for parents of vulnerable children aged up to six years, was submitted in 2013.

Common elements

We identified 14 common elements across 12 interventions that could more confidently be considered effective. These common elements included:

  • using structured or planned sessions
  • providing child and family assessment
  • developing individualised plan
  • conveying information and strategies during discussions with parents
  • providing information and strategies about child behaviour and behaviour management (in particular consistent, clear, positive, non-punitive approaches), parent-child interactions, emotional regulation, child health, development and safety, as well as issues of family wellbeing and life course.

The Families Commission used the findings of our REA to inform their on-going analysis of the evidence for interventions of relevance to the New Zealand context (Families Commission, 2014) and to inform the development of interventions for vulnerable families.

Read more about the report.

Funded by The Families Commission of New Zealand.

Families Commission (2014). Effective Parenting Programmes: A review of the effectiveness of parenting programmes for parents of vulnerable children. Families Commission: Wellington.