Evidence briefs on interventions for families

The Benevolent Society commissioned the Parenting Research Centre to review the evidence for the following:

  1. parenting, family support and home-visiting programs
  2. supported playgroups for children from birth to five years.

The purpose of this project was to find out which interventions result in good outcomes for children, and how these might help children learn and be ready for school. We were also asked to translate the findings into short, easy-to-read evidence briefs suitable for quick reference by policymakers.

Parenting, family support and home-visiting programs

To assess the evidence for interventions for parents and families, we conducted a review of systematic reviews. Our rigorous methodology included:

  • a search of electronic databases and key organisation websites
  • pre-determined criteria to select systematic reviews of parenting, family support and home visiting programs
  • inclusion of systematic reviews if they reported the impact of programs on at least one of the outcomes in the Australian Early Development Census (2012).

Major findings

  • There is evidence to support the use of parenting and family support interventions to improve social, behavioural, cognitive, academic and receptive and expressive language outcomes for children.
  • There is early evidence that interventions for parents of premature infants may improve psychomotor development.
  • Home-visiting interventions delivered by professionals may result in improved social, emotional and cognitive outcomes for children.
  • Children benefit from having parents involved in interventions, including parent-mediated interventions.
  • There is little or no evidence for the benefits of parenting and family support interventions on child emotional wellbeing, pro-social behaviours, numeracy, fine and gross motor skills, general knowledge, physical readiness for the school day (e.g., being prepared and on time for school) and physical independence.

Read our four evidence briefs on interventions for parenting, family support and home-visiting programs:

Supported playgroups for children from birth to five years

To investigate the evidence for supported playgroups for children from birth to five years, we conducted a targeted search of known playgroup literature and synthesised the identified studies.

Major findings

  • To date, little research using rigorous methodologies has assessed the impact of supported playgroups on child outcomes.
  • The early evidence indicates that:
    • supported playgroups may have a positive influence on social skills, health and wellbeing of some children
    • supported playgroups may contribute to school readiness.

Download our evidence brief Supported playgroups for children from birth to five years.

You can also read more on the Benevolent Society website.

Evidence to inform policy

The briefs have been widely disseminated to the New South Wales Government to demonstrate the potential impact of interventions on child outcomes that are relevant to readiness for school.