Providing evidence of effectiveness of our program work has become increasingly important to all of us. Funding sources often require it, and even when they don’t, we can agree that when we take time to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, we see improved results from our efforts to strengthen families and children. Active Parenting demonstrates its commitment to scientific rigor by providing access to our own studies published in peer reviewed journals, sharing other independent research on AP programs, and by offering the free use of our program evaluation surveys to leaders.
Parenting is a learned skill that can be strengthened and improved through experience and education. Moreover, support obtained from group-based parenting education programs has been shown to reduce parenting stress and build a sense of competence in parenting (Kim, 2014; Morris, Robinson, Hays-Grudo, Claussen, Hartwig, & Treat, 2017).
This poster introduces preliminary findings of an ongoing national evaluation of the parent education program Active Parenting – First Five Years (Popkin, Morris, Slocum, & Hubbs-Tait, 2017).
Active Parenting – First Five Years is designed for parents of children ages 0 to 4, and is implemented over four weekly 2-hour sessions that use a video-based curriculum focused on positive, responsive parenting, skill building, self-care, and tools for developing a healthy and well-adjusted child.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the Active Parenting – First Five Years parenting intervention in terms of parenting outcomes including responsive parenting, developmental knowledge, parenting efficacy, mindfulness, and parenting stress; as well as child outcomes of emotion problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial behavior.
Results of the current evaluation are promising. As seen in Table 3, dependent sample t-test comparisons of pre- and post-test measures indicate significant increases in responsive parenting, developmental knowledge, parenting efficacy, mindfulness, child strengths, child prosocial behavior, with significant decreases in parenting stress.
Nearly all participants rated their overall experience in the program as good (13.0%) or excellent (86.3%). Common themes highlighted by parents have included the group discussions, brain building activities, breathing exercises, positive discipline ideas, and the video curriculum.
With evaluation findings showing promise to this point, data are now being collected using a novel Inclusive Randomized Control Trial. This is accomplished by participants filling out three surveys (Control, Pre, Post), after which they are randomly assigned to the Control Group (Control & Pre) or the treatment group (Pre & Post). This method allows for all participants to receive the benefits of the intervention without a waiting period.
This program appears to do well in providing parents with opportunities to enhance mindfulness and reduce stress – two aspects of parent self-care that could prove useful additions to traditional parenting education programs.
In light of the results obtained from the population sampled for this study, this program appears to be an effective parenting intervention for serving low income, high-risk families.
Q. How is Active Parenting: First Five Years (FFY) a research-based parenting curriculum?
A. Even though FFY is a new program and the national field testing is still underway, there are a number of ways that FFY currently qualifies as a research-based program:
It is the revision of the 1,2,3,4 Parents! program that showed significant positive outcomes in a study by Donna G. Knauth, Ph.D., RNC, of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey College of Nursing: “The Effect of a Family-of-Origin Genogram and Parenting Intervention on Adolescent Mothers’ Level of Differentiation of Self and Parenting Attitudes.” (Click here for the abstract of that study.)
Like 1,2,3,4 Parents!, FFY is based on the Active Parenting family of programs and uses the Active Parenting model. There are over 20 studies showing evidence of effectiveness for these programs and listings on NREPP and other lists of evidence-based programs.
Active Parenting author Dr. Michael Popkin teamed with three experts in child development at Oklahoma State University in developing FFY to make sure that the latest research in child development and safety were included in the program.
Q. When do you expect that the curriculum would be considered a fully research-based curriculum?
A. We are currently working with the same team of researchers at Oklahoma State University (OSU) to conduct a nationwide research study to provide ongoing evidence of effectiveness using the most rigorous research methods. Preliminary findings are available now (see downloadable poster above), and we expect to have final results ready during the summer of 2019.
Third party evidence-based websites listing the program
NREPP: SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) was long considered “the gold standard” for evidence-based programs. Active Parenting, Active Parenting of Teens, and Families in Action were listed as legacy programs from 2008 until NREPP was closed by SAMHSA in 2018. At that time, the current re-review of our programs had been completed and was waiting for publication. The re-review also included Active Parenting: First Five Years and Active Parenting for Stepfamilies as versions of the Active Parenting program. Click here for the program profile NREPP had completed for the review.
Listed in Penn State Clearinghouse of Military Family Readiness (includes 1,2,3,4 Parents, the original version of Active Parenting: First Five Years, as well as Active Parenting and Active Parenting of Teens). Click to view the Clearinghouse listing.
Parent survey for your First Five Years class
This questionnaire may be used free of charge to provide evidence of your program’s effectiveness.