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Engaging parents in parenting programs: Lessons from research and practice


  • Axford, Nick
  • Lehtonen, Minna
  • Kaoukji, Dwan
  • Tobin, Kate
  • Berry, Vashti


When evidence-based parenting programs are implemented in real-world settings they often fail to produce the results shown in efficacy trials. One reason for this is difficulties in engaging parents. This paper identifies lessons from a review of literature on engaging parents in parenting programs and presents a case study of the implementation of the Incredible Years BASIC program in the context of a randomized controlled trial. It examines the challenges encountered and efforts to overcome them. Key recommendations include: a clear recruitment process; good communication and liaison with stakeholders; incentives for recruitment and retention; active and creative outreach work; investment in building relationships with parents; making programs easily accessible; and having realistic expectations.

Suggested Citation

  • Axford, Nick & Lehtonen, Minna & Kaoukji, Dwan & Tobin, Kate & Berry, Vashti, 2012. "Engaging parents in parenting programs: Lessons from research and practice," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(10), pages 2061-2071.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:10:p:2061-2071
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.06.011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jonathan Bradshaw & Petra Hoelscher & Dominic Richardson, 2007. "An Index of Child Well-being in the European Union," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 80(1), pages 133-177, January.
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    1. repec:eee:cysrev:v:85:y:2018:i:c:p:127-136 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Smallegange, E.S. & Hermanns, J.M.A. & Oort, F.J., 2016. "Evaluating the effectiveness of combining Home-Start and Triple P parenting support in the Netherlands," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 178-186.
    3. Axford, Nick & Morpeth, Louise, 2013. "Evidence-based programs in children's services: A critical appraisal," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 268-277.
    4. Stahlschmidt, Mary Jo & Threlfall, Jennifer & Seay, Kristen D. & Lewis, Ericka M. & Kohl, Patricia L., 2013. "Recruiting fathers to parenting programs: Advice from dads and fatherhood program providers," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1734-1741.
    5. repec:pal:eurjdr:v:29:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1057_s41287-017-0103-6 is not listed on IDEAS


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