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ParentCorps

A multi-level intervention designed for pre-kindergarten children living in low-income neighborhoods to create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improve relationships and communication between parents and teachers.

Fact Sheet

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance
  • Conduct Problems
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Obesity

Program Type

  • Parent Training
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Teacher Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention

Age

  • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool

Gender

  • Both

Endorsements

Blueprints: Model
SAMHSA : 3.2-3.6

Program Information Contact

Laurie Miller Brotman
Director, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development
Department of Population Health
New York University Langone Health
227 E. 30th Street
New York City, NY 10016
Email: laurie.brotman@nyumc.org

Program Developer/Owner

Laurie Miller Brotman
New York University Langone Health


Brief Description of the Program

ParentCorps is a culturally informed program that enhances pre-K programs in schools and early education centers serving primarily children of color from low-income communities. It helps the important adults in children's lives - parents and teachers - to create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improves relationships and communication between parents and teachers. ParentCorps includes three main components: professional learning for pre-K and kindergarten teachers and support staff, a parenting program for families of pre-k students, and social-emotional learning classroom curriculum for pre-K students.

ParentCorps is a culturally informed program that enhances pre-K programs in schools and early education centers serving primarily children of color from low-income communities. The program takes a two-generation approach by supporting both parents and children to produce change that multiplies impact. It helps the important adults in children's lives - parents and teachers -create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improves relationships and communication between parents and teachers. These changes scaffold children's acquisition of self-regulation skills, and together, sustained changes in the environment and self-regulatory capacity contribute to improved mental health and achievement in childhood and adolescence. The program consists of 13 weekly sessions, which are held in the school during the evening and co-facilitated by mental health professionals and pre-K teachers or other school staff. Parent and child groups meet separately first but are brought together so that parents can practice new skills.

ParentCorps is:

  • Embedded in schools or early education centers - and facilitated by school staff - to create a sustainable mechanism to reach the majority of children early in life.
  • Universal for all children as they enter pre-K, with the expectation that it would engage and benefit the highest-risk families.
  • Timed with the transition to school when parents may be especially open and motivated to change and when children are at risk for learning, behavior and mental health problems.

ParentCorps includes three components:

  1. Professional Learning for leaders, teachers, mental health professionals and parent support staff on evidence-based strategies to promote social, emotional and behavioral development and family engagement practices; training and coaching for teachers and mental health professionals to support high-quality program implementation.
  2. Parenting Program for families of pre-K students (14 2-hour sessions) to provide opportunities for parents to come together, share ideas, learn about evidence-based practices, and support each other in parenting effectively.
  3. Social-Emotional Learning Classroom Curriculum for pre-K students (14 2-hour sessions).

Outcomes

In Study 1 (Brotman et al., 2011) at posttest, compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group scored significantly better on:

  • Self-rated effective parenting practices
  • Teacher-rated child behavior problems composite (internalizing, externalizing, and overall adaptive behavior)

In Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016), compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed significant improvements in:

  • Standardized test scores at the end of kindergarten
  • Teacher-rated academic performance
  • Parent and teacher-rated effective parenting practices
  • Teacher-rated child internalizing and externalizing problems

In Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012), compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed significant reductions in:

  • BMI, body size, and obesity

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The initial study (Brotman et al., 2011) tested the program's impacts on parenting practices and child behavioral problems in a cluster randomized controlled trial of eight public schools in New York City. The schools were randomized into intervention (n=4) or control (n=4) conditions. Two consecutive cohorts of pre-K students with English-speaking parents were recruited, yielding 171 participating families. Assessments of effective parenting practices and child behavior problems occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation) and posttest in late spring of the same academic year.

Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016) was a cluster randomized controlled trial of ten public schools located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City. The schools were matched on size and then randomized into either intervention or control conditions. For the sample of 1,050 participating children recruited from four consecutive cohorts, assessments occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation), the late spring of the same academic year (interim), the end of the kindergarten school year (posttest), and through the end of second grade (long-term follow-up).

Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012) began with the randomized clustered sample of 10 schools used in Study 2 but selected a subsample of 146 children with behavioral problems (106 in the intervention schools and 40 in the control schools). Measures of body weight, body size, obesity, physical activity, and sedentary behavior were obtained through second grade, two years after the program ended.

Blueprints Certified Studies

Study 1

Brotman, L. M., Calzada, E., Huang, K., Kingston, S., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., . . . Petkova, E. (2011). Promoting effective parenting practices and preventing child behavior problems in school among ethnically diverse families from underserved, urban communities. Child Development, 82(1), 258-276.


Study 2

Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Calzada, E. J., Huang, K., Kamboukos, D., Palamar, J. J., & Petkova, E. (2013). Cluster (school) RCT of ParentCorps: Impact on kindergarten academic achievement. Pediatrics, 131(5), 1521-1529.


Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., Huang, K., Calzada, E., Goldfeld, K., & Petkova, E. (2016). Effects of ParentCorps in prekindergarten on child mental health and academic performance: Follow-up of a randomized clinical trial through 8 years of age. Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, 170(12), 1149-1155.


Risk and Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Family: Poor family management*

Protective Factors

Family: Nonviolent Discipline*, Parental involvement in education*


* Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program

See also: ParentCorps Logic Model (PDF)

Race/Ethnicity/Gender Details

Training and Technical Assistance

ParentCorps includes three key components: 1) Professional Learning, Program Training and Coaching; 2) Program for Parents of Pre-K Students; and 3) Program for Pre-K Students. The three intervention components (described below) are expected to synergistically strengthen family engagement and help teachers and parents to provide environments that are safe, nurturing and predictable to ensure that all students develop the self-regulation skills that are foundational for learning.

Professional Learning is provided to support four primary user groups within the school community: 1) School Leader responsible for oversight of all; 2) Pre-K Teachers & Teaching Assistants to deliver student program; 3) Mental Health Professionals to deliver parenting program; and 4) Parent Support Staff to engage parents in program. Professional Learning aims to advance knowledge, beliefs and skills among all users to improve specific aspects of the school environment and prepare users to implement and sustain the Programs for Parents and Pre-K Students with fidelity and high levels of exposure/participation.

Professional Learning, Training and Coaching are intended to promote knowledge, beliefs and skills necessary for sustained behavior change through intentionally sequenced group and individualized experiences, with a "spirit" of explicitly valuing collaboration and supporting autonomy. This includes three elements:

1) ParentCorps FUNdamentals is a series of large-group experiential days for all user groups which takes place in the first summer prior to implementation. Leaders participate in a 2-day FUNdamentals series with leaders from other sites. All other facilitators participate in a 4-day series (in small groups of 10-12 within sites, or of approximately 25 - 40 participants from across schools) aimed at creating a shared understanding of influences on school readiness and the rationale and evidence for ParentCorps components, and motivating participants to use evidence-based practices to engage families and create nurturing and predictable classrooms (e.g., creating responsive interactions, scaffolding and reinforcing new skills, and consistent routines, rules and consequences). In a safe and supportive setting, facilitators are asked to reflect on their assumptions (positive and negative) about parents and students and to connect those assumptions to their current practices and ability to help children learn and succeed.

ParentCorps FUNdamentals by User Group:

  • School Leader: 2 days
  • Pre-K Teachers & Teaching Assistants: 4 days
  • Mental Health Professionals: 4 days
  • Parent Support Staff: 4 days

2) Program Training is a group-based series to prepare facilitators to implement Programs with fidelity and to ensure high levels of exposure by parents and students. Mental health professionals are supported to facilitate the Parenting Program with fidelity. Pre-K teachers and assistants are supported to implement the Program for Students in the classroom. In addition, early childhood staff (including Kindergarten teachers as needed) is trained to facilitate the Program for Students during after-school hours in parallel with the Parenting Program. All users receive training on engaging parents to participate.

Program Training by User Group:

  • School Leader: N/A
  • Pre-K Teachers & Teaching Assistants: 1 day
  • Mental Health Professionals: 3 days
  • Parent Support Staff: 1 day

3) Coaching is one-on-one support provided in-vivo and from a distance (phone, text, email) to help users apply evidence-based practices in daily interactions with students and parents, and to support high levels of implementation fidelity and exposure. Recent research on Professional Learning and implementation fidelity (Diamond et al., 2013; Domitrovich et al., 2009; Lundahl et al., 2010; Pianta et al., 2008; Sheridan et al., 2009) underscores that early childhood teachers require a substantial amount of training, in-vivo coaching and ongoing support to meaningfully alter their behavior. During the first series (over 14 weeks in the Fall), all Pre-Kindergarten teachers, and the mental health professionals facilitating the Parenting Program, receive up to four coaching visits which include observations of the 2-hour program session and 10 30-minute calls for the remaining sessions. Coaching with school leaders and other key personnel supports their oversight and planning, especially to ensure high levels of exposure (e.g., allocating time for teachers to participate in Coaching, directing mental health professionals and parent support staff to follow protocols for engaging parents in the Program).

Coaching by User Group:

  • School Leader: monthly meetings
  • Pre-K Teachers & Teaching Assistants: 3-4 visits + 10 calls (30-45 minutes)
  • Mental Health Professionals: 3-4 visits + 10 calls (30-45 minutes)
  • Parent Support Staff: 30 minutes/week

Fidelity and exposure are monitored throughout coaching. All implementation supports are accessed through a single software platform called iParentCorps. Each school-based user accesses iParentCorps with his/her own user name and password to gain access to all manuals and links to provide feedback to coaches on the implementation process (i.e., exposure, fidelity, quality of implementation, request for implementation supports). This allows coaches to review data in real time and provide tailored, data-informed coaching.

ParentCorps implementation processes and materials were developed based on extensive implementation experiences, adult learning principles, and research on professional learning strategies that support sustained behavior change (Lundahl et al., 2010; Porter et al., 2000; Sheridan et al., 2009; Smylie, 1988; Snyder et al., 2012, Taylor, 2008; Whitaker et al., 2007). Materials for all components (e.g., DVD for Parenting Program, Toolkits for Teachers, Guide for Parents, Music CD for Classrooms) reflect a collaborative spirit; user-friendly manuals articulate content and process elements; and the consistency of materials across the components eases delivery and bolsters fidelity. All necessary materials and protocols for implementation are fully developed and well-tested, and available in English and Spanish (some materials are also available in other languages).

ParentCorps 101 E-learning is a self-paced interactive web-based series with 7 modules intended to help users build confidence and mastery of evidence-based practices. Users are encouraged to complete the series in the Fall of the first school year of implementation.

Benefits and Costs

Source: Washington State Institute for Public Policy
All benefit-cost ratios are the most recent estimates published by The Washington State Institute for Public Policy for Blueprint programs implemented in Washington State. These ratios are based on a) meta-analysis estimates of effect size and b) monetized benefits and calculated costs for programs as delivered in the State of Washington. Caution is recommended in applying these estimates of the benefit-cost ratio to any other state or local area. They are provided as an illustration of the benefit-cost ratio found in one specific state. When feasible, local costs and monetized benefits should be used to calculate expected local benefit-cost ratios. The formula for this calculation can be found on the WSIPP website.

Program Costs

Start-Up Costs

Initial Training and Technical Assistance

The initial on-site training cost is $10,000 per school (there is economy of scale with multiple schools). Training is provided for 9 individuals (1 leader/administrator, 6 Pre-K teachers/assistants, 1 mental health professional, and 1 parent support staff) and is held over multiple days. All staff attend the first 4 days; mental health professionals attend 3 additional days; and teacher/assistants and support staff attend 1 additional day.

Curriculum and Materials

Curriculum: $100 per trainee

Materials Available in Other Language: All necessary materials and protocols for implementation are available in Spanish (some materials are also available in other languages).

Licensing

None.

Other Start-Up Costs

Strategic planning is required to ensure alignment of the ParentCorps model with the context, culture and availability of resources for high-quality implementation. This will entail a series of discussions and visits by ParentCorps to the implementing community and by leaders and key personnel to NYC.

Intervention Implementation Costs

Ongoing Curriculum and Materials

Program materials: $6,000
Costs include materials for Friends School in the classrooms, 1 Parenting Program cycle during the school day and 1 Parenting Program cycle delivered after-school (including additional costs for Friends School and Arts materials for siblings), and outreach materials to engage families. Each family receives a ParentCorps Toolkit which includes a photograph-based Parent Guide and materials to support use of practices at home (e.g., wordless book for "book sharing," crayons and pad for parent-child play, sticker chart, magnet and bookmark with reminders and cues for parents). Teachers receive a Toolkit (e.g., CD with songs for active movement and calm down exercises, sample family engagement materials, food review book).

Staffing

School leadership (leader/principal) needs to be available for monthly meetings.

All Pre-K teachers/teaching assistants for implementation of and coaching in Friends School in the classroom.

One mental health professional for implementation of and coaching Parenting Program during the school day.

One support staff for parent engagement activities.

Six early education staff (teachers, mental health professional) for implementation of and coaching in the ParentCorps after-school program (with programming for siblings). In NYC, costs for staff time during after-school hours (14 weeks, 3.5 hours per week, per staff) for 6 school staff are estimated at $14,000.

Other Implementation Costs

Space for Parenting Program (during school day and after-school hours) to accommodate 20 individuals, with DVD player and board/flip charts. Pre-K classroom, with access to age-appropriate toys, for Friends School (after-school hours). Space for program for siblings. Costs for space and security are additional and covered by the site.

Meals are provided to families who attend the Parenting Program (during the school day and after-school hours). In NYC, costs for 1 cycle during the school day (~$70 per session) and 1 after-school program (with dinner for parents, pre-k students and siblings ~$360 per session) are estimated to be approximately $6,000.

The Parenting Program includes a weekly raffle to reinforce participation and to model a reinforcement strategy. In NYC, programs raffle $20 prizes each week for 14 weeks. Costs for 2 Parenting Program cycles per year = $560.

Implementation Support and Fidelity Monitoring Costs

Ongoing Training and Technical Assistance

Annual training prior to launch of programming cycle and training for new staff. In NYC, this is approximately $12,000 per school.

In NYC, intensive coaching is provided to teachers and mental health professionals on a weekly basis during the 14-week programs for the first two years of implementation. Coaches also hold monthly meetings with school leadership and key personnel to support high-quality sustainable implementation. In NYC, the cost of intensive coaching is approximately $60,000 annually.

These costs include coaches' travel to schools for meetings, coaching and in-vivo modelling in classrooms. Strategies for coaching and modeling in sites outside of NYC need to be determined in partnership with the school-district or agency.

$35 per school staff annually for iParentCorps (to capture and monitor fidelity and exposure; access to e-learning and resources).

Fidelity Monitoring and Evaluation

ParentCorps staff analyze fidelity data to inform coaching and for monitoring purposes. Coaches review data in real time, using online individualized dashboards, and provide tailored, data-informed coaching. The costs per school depend on the agreement with the partner institution. In NYC, this is approximately $10,000 per school during the early years of implementation.

There may be additional costs of collecting and entering weekly feedback forms from parents.

Ongoing License Fees

None.

Other Implementation Support and Fidelity Monitoring Costs

No information is available

Other Cost Considerations

Costs are based on implementation experiences in NYC. Costs will vary depending on geography (distance from NYC); nature of the implementing institution (school district, Head Start grantee, social service agency), the relationship between the institution and the Pre-K programs, and the presence and availability of mental health professionals to facilitate the Parenting Program, among other considerations.

Year One Cost Example

In this example, an urban public school implements ParentCorps for students in 3 Pre-K classrooms and their families. Each classroom contains 18 students for a total of 54 students served by the program. Forty families of these students also opt to participate in the parenting/family program, 20 during the school day and 20 after-school when parallel programming for Pre-K students and school-age siblings are provided. It is assumed that space for program activities is available at the school.

Most costs are based upon estimates from implementation in New York City, though an estimated expense has been added for travel for strategic planning sessions. Please note that pricing may vary by location.

Travel for two strategic planning sessions $4,000.00
On-site training for 9 individuals $10,000.00
Curriculum: $100 X 9 $900.00
Program materials $6,000.00
Staffing for after-school program $14,000.00
Meals for 40 families $6,000.00
Raffle prizes $560.00
Intensive coaching $60,000.00
iParentCorps: $35 x 9 $315.00
Fidelity monitoring $10,000.00
Total One Year Cost $111,775.00

During Year 1, the total cost of ParentCorps program implementation for 54 students (and families) is $111,775. The cost per student is $2,070.

After two years of implementation with intensive coaching and fidelity monitoring, the need for such coaching and monitoring would be reduced and the overall program expense could be decreased by more than half.

Funding Strategies

Funding Overview

As a program that promotes positive parent, teacher, and child relationships in order to increase a child's success at school and at home, funding sources that promote positive mental/behavioral health, parenting education, quality early learning opportunities and school readiness are all potential sources of support for ParentCorps.

Funding Strategies

Improving the Use of Existing Public Funds

Pre-K and other early childhood education programs that already have a parent engagement and education component can utilize the ParentCorps training and curriculum to improve the effectiveness of their teaching of children and engagement with their parents. State and locally funded Pre-K programs as well as Head Start programs could potentially utilize ParentCorps programming. The new Head Start program performance standards, published in September 2016, provide that: "A program must, at a minimum, offer opportunities for parents to participate in a research-based parenting curriculum that builds on parents' knowledge and offers parents the opportunity to practice parenting skills to promote children's learning and development." This new standard aligns with ParentCorps' Parenting Program. ParentCorps is highlighted as one of 28 center-based parenting programs included in the Parenting Curricula Review Database available from the Office of Head Start Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC). This Database was developed to assist Head Start and Early Head Start programs in choosing a research-based parenting curricula to help them meet Head Start Performance Standards. Of note, ParentCorps is rated as having the highest level of evidence.

Given the strong evidence-base for ParentCorps, there may also be good alignment with any public funding opportunity that specifically targets evidence-based services.

Allocating State or Local General Funds

In addition to local early childhood education funding, state and local mental/behavioral health funding is a key source of support for the ParentCorps program. State and local public health, early intervention and child welfare prevention funds could also be considered. ParentCorps has typically been facilitated by school-based mental health professionals in coordination with early education teachers. Pre-K and other early education programs that do not have sufficient mental health staff to support the program could consider partnerships with local mental health or public health offices where county or city mental health staff could help to facilitate the program in early education settings.

Maximizing Federal Funds

Formula Funds:

  • The federal education funding Title I, which provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high numbers of children from low-income families, can potentially support any ParentCorps costs, including curricula purchase, training, technology purchases and teacher salaries for school-based programs.
  • The Mental Health Services Block Grant (MHSBG) can fund a variety of mental health promotion and intervention activities and is a potential source of support for ParentCorps.
  • The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is used by states to support child care subsidies, early childhood education contracts, and quality improvement efforts in early childhood education. CCDBG quality dollars could be used for training and to purchase materials that could be implemented in early childhood education settings.
  • Title IV-B, Parts 1 & 2, of the Social Security Act provides fairly flexible formula and discretionary (competitive) funding to state child welfare agencies for child welfare services including prevention and family preservation activities and professional training, and could be used to support ParentCorps for families involved with the child welfare system.
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Block Grant - Overall, states use 17 percent of their TANF funds to help low-income working families afford child care, but states' TANF spending on child care has been flat or declining for over a decade. Spending varies dramatically by state: 11 states spent more than 30 percent of their TANF funds in this area, while 13 states spent less than 5 percent.

Discretionary Grants: Federal discretionary grants from the Department of Education and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at the US Department of Health and Human Services can be a source of funding.

Foundation Grants and Public-Private Partnerships

Advances in science are driving an increased appreciation for both the risks and promise of early childhood. ParentCorps' demonstrated ability to build healthy environments and improve outcomes for children facing adversity resonates with public and private funders. Foundations, especially those with a stated interest in parent education, early childhood education, and the well-being of vulnerable children and families, can provide funding for initial training and program materials purchase.

Debt Financing

No information is available

Generating New Revenue

Parent Teacher Associations, business, and local civic associations can also serve as sponsors of fundraising campaigns to support the ParentCorps program.

Data Sources

No information is available

Evaluation Abstract

Program Developer/Owner

Laurie Miller BrotmanDirector, Center for Early Childhood Health and DevelopmentNew York University Langone HealthDepartment of Population Health220 E. 30th StreetNew York City, NY 10016laurie.brotman@nyumc.org

Program Outcomes

  • Academic Performance
  • Conduct Problems
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing
  • Obesity

Program Specifics

Program Type

  • Parent Training
  • School - Individual Strategies
  • Teacher Training

Program Setting

  • School

Continuum of Intervention

  • Universal Prevention

Program Goals

A multi-level intervention designed for pre-kindergarten children living in low-income neighborhoods to create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improve relationships and communication between parents and teachers.

Population Demographics

Early Childhood (3-5)

Target Population

Age

  • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool

Gender

  • Both

Other Risk and Protective Factors

Family

  • Positive parenting
  • Non-harsh and consistent discipline
  • Parent involvement

Risk/Protective Factor Domain

  • Family

Risk/Protective Factors

Risk Factors

Family: Poor family management*

Protective Factors

Family: Nonviolent Discipline*, Parental involvement in education*


*Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program

Brief Description of the Program

ParentCorps is a culturally informed program that enhances pre-K programs in schools and early education centers serving primarily children of color from low-income communities. It helps the important adults in children's lives - parents and teachers - to create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improves relationships and communication between parents and teachers. ParentCorps includes three main components: professional learning for pre-K and kindergarten teachers and support staff, a parenting program for families of pre-k students, and social-emotional learning classroom curriculum for pre-K students.

Description of the Program

ParentCorps is a culturally informed program that enhances pre-K programs in schools and early education centers serving primarily children of color from low-income communities. The program takes a two-generation approach by supporting both parents and children to produce change that multiplies impact. It helps the important adults in children's lives - parents and teachers -create safe, nurturing and predictable environments at home and in the classroom and improves relationships and communication between parents and teachers. These changes scaffold children's acquisition of self-regulation skills, and together, sustained changes in the environment and self-regulatory capacity contribute to improved mental health and achievement in childhood and adolescence. The program consists of 13 weekly sessions, which are held in the school during the evening and co-facilitated by mental health professionals and pre-K teachers or other school staff. Parent and child groups meet separately first but are brought together so that parents can practice new skills.

ParentCorps is:

  • Embedded in schools or early education centers - and facilitated by school staff - to create a sustainable mechanism to reach the majority of children early in life.
  • Universal for all children as they enter pre-K, with the expectation that it would engage and benefit the highest-risk families.
  • Timed with the transition to school when parents may be especially open and motivated to change and when children are at risk for learning, behavior and mental health problems.

ParentCorps includes three components:

  1. Professional Learning for leaders, teachers, mental health professionals and parent support staff on evidence-based strategies to promote social, emotional and behavioral development and family engagement practices; training and coaching for teachers and mental health professionals to support high-quality program implementation.
  2. Parenting Program for families of pre-K students (14 2-hour sessions) to provide opportunities for parents to come together, share ideas, learn about evidence-based practices, and support each other in parenting effectively.
  3. Social-Emotional Learning Classroom Curriculum for pre-K students (14 2-hour sessions).

Theoretical Rationale

Children of color living in low-income urban neighborhoods are exposed to a host of stressors related to poverty, adversity and discrimination. There is a need to invest in and support parents and early childhood teachers to mitigate stress early in children's lives, promote health and academic achievement, and reduce inequities. Effective, evidence-based, family-centered interventions early in life hold great promise to attenuate risk attributable to poverty and stress and reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement, social-emotional development, behavior and health, and can result in longer-term benefits. This promise can only be realized if interventions successfully engage families, especially those in greatest need. To do this, interventions must be accessible, engaging, and effective for low-income families of color. There are a set of best practice strategies that all parents can use that will help their children thrive. Given the opportunity, families from culturally and economically diverse backgrounds have what it takes to adopt these practices.

Brief Evaluation Methodology

The initial study (Brotman et al., 2011) tested the program's impacts on parenting practices and child behavioral problems in a cluster randomized controlled trial of eight public schools in New York City. The schools were randomized into intervention (n=4) or control (n=4) conditions. Two consecutive cohorts of pre-K students with English-speaking parents were recruited, yielding 171 participating families. Assessments of effective parenting practices and child behavior problems occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation) and posttest in late spring of the same academic year.

Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016) was a cluster randomized controlled trial of ten public schools located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in New York City. The schools were matched on size and then randomized into either intervention or control conditions. For the sample of 1,050 participating children recruited from four consecutive cohorts, assessments occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation), the late spring of the same academic year (interim), the end of the kindergarten school year (posttest), and through the end of second grade (long-term follow-up).

Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012) began with the randomized clustered sample of 10 schools used in Study 2 but selected a subsample of 146 children with behavioral problems (106 in the intervention schools and 40 in the control schools). Measures of body weight, body size, obesity, physical activity, and sedentary behavior were obtained through second grade, two years after the program ended.

Outcomes (Brief, over all studies)

In Study 1, Brotman et al. (2011) found that, compared to the control condition, parents in schools assigned to the intervention displayed significant improvements in self-rated effective parenting practices and significant reductions in teacher-rated child behavior problems (internalizing, externalizing, and overall adaptive behavior) at posttest.

In Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016), participants in the intervention schools displayed significantly higher test scores than control students at the end of kindergarten. At the end of second grade, children from intervention schools had significantly lower scores on teacher-rated mental health problems (a composite of internalizing and externalizing problems) and higher scores on teacher-rated academic performance relative to children from control schools. Parents of children from intervention schools had better parenting practices and greater involvement in education relative to parents of children from control schools at the end of kindergarten.

In Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012), the subsample of participants in the intervention schools had significantly lower BMI, body size, and obesity at follow-up (age eight) than participants in the control schools.

Outcomes

In Study 1 (Brotman et al., 2011) at posttest, compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group scored significantly better on:

  • Self-rated effective parenting practices
  • Teacher-rated child behavior problems composite (internalizing, externalizing, and overall adaptive behavior)

In Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016), compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed significant improvements in:

  • Standardized test scores at the end of kindergarten
  • Teacher-rated academic performance
  • Parent and teacher-rated effective parenting practices
  • Teacher-rated child internalizing and externalizing problems

In Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012), compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group showed significant reductions in:

  • BMI, body size, and obesity

Mediating Effects

Not examined.

Effect Size

In the first study (Brotman et al., 2011), Cohen's d ranged from .50 (for parenting practices) to .56 (for child behavioral problems), indicating moderate program effects. The second study (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016) was designed to detect an effect size of .33 at 80% power, but observed smaller effect sizes: Cohen's d ranged from .18 to .25 for academic measures and from .16 to .38 for parenting measures at posttest. At 2-year follow-up, there was a small-moderate effect on mental health problems (d= .44).

Generalizability

Tested in 18 high-poverty public schools with pre-K programs in New York City and included more than 1,200 children.

Potential Limitations

Study 1 (Brotman et al., 2011):

  • Randomized schools but consent rates differed across conditions
  • Teachers who helped deliver the program also rated child behavior
  • Adjusted for clustering but sample size of eight schools may be too small
  • Gender difference at baseline
  • Gender difference in attrition and incomplete tests
  • No significant effects on independent measures of child behavior

Study 2 (Brotman et al., 2013; Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016):

  • Some child measures came from teachers who helped deliver the program
  • Adjusted for clustering but sample size of 10 schools may be too small
  • Did not test for condition differences in attrition but used multiple imputation with assumption of missing at random

Study 3 (Brotman et al., 2012)

  • Adjusted for clustering but the sample size of 10 schools may be too small
  • Baseline outcome controls available only for one outcome
  • High attrition and incomplete tests for differential attrition
  • Examined only a small subsample of the originally randomized sample

Notes

Another study evaluated an enhanced version of the program, one that added a session on physical health, exercise, and eating, but the evaluation did not include a control group. See Dawson-McClure, S., Brotman, L. M., Theise, R., Palamar, J. J., Kamboukos, D., Barajas, R. G.,  & Calzada, E. J. (2014). Early childhood obesity prevention in low-income, urban communities. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 42(2), 152-166. doi:10.1080/10852352.2014.881194

Endorsements

Blueprints: Model
SAMHSA : 3.2-3.6

Program Information Contact

Laurie Miller Brotman
Director, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development
Department of Population Health
New York University Langone Health
227 E. 30th Street
New York City, NY 10016
Email: laurie.brotman@nyumc.org

References

Study 1

Certified Brotman, L. M., Calzada, E., Huang, K., Kingston, S., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., . . . Petkova, E. (2011). Promoting effective parenting practices and preventing child behavior problems in school among ethnically diverse families from underserved, urban communities. Child Development, 82(1), 258-276.

Study 2

Certified Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Calzada, E. J., Huang, K., Kamboukos, D., Palamar, J. J., & Petkova, E. (2013). Cluster (school) RCT of ParentCorps: Impact on kindergarten academic achievement. Pediatrics, 131(5), 1521-1529.

Certified Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., Huang, K., Calzada, E., Goldfeld, K., & Petkova, E. (2016). Effects of ParentCorps in prekindergarten on child mental health and academic performance: Follow-up of a randomized clinical trial through 8 years of age. Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, 170(12), 1149-1155.

Dawson-McClure, S., Calzada, E., Huang, K., Kamboukos, D., Rhule, D., Kolawole, B., . . . Brotman, L. M. (2015). A population-level approach to promoting healthy child development and school success in low-income, urban neighborhoods: Impact on parenting and child conduct problems. Preventation Science, 16(2), 279-290.

Study 3

Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Huang, K.-Y., Theise, R., Kamboukos, D., Wang, J., . . . Ogedegbe, G. (2012). Early childhood family intervention and long-term obesity prevention among high-risk minority youth. Pediatrics, 129(3), e621-e628. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-156

Study 1

Evaluation Methodology

Design:

Recruitment: Two consecutive cohorts of pre-kindergarten children from eight high-poverty public elementary schools with universal pre-K classes were recruited from one New York City school district based on racial/ethnic diversity and poverty as assessed by the percentage of the school eligible for free school lunch. All families with children enrolled in the participating schools were eligible for participation if they had a primary caregiver who spoke English (n=410). Only 171 consented.

Assignment: The eight schools were randomly assigned (using a matched pairs procedure based on number and type of prekindergarten classes and school-level student demographics) to either intervention (n=4; 118 children) or control conditions (n=4; 53 children). However, consent differed across conditions, with 50% consenting in the intervention group and 31% consenting in the control group. While the control group received services as usual, teachers in all schools received professional development on the content of the family intervention prior to randomization.

Also, the study stated the following: "Two consecutive cohorts of Pre-K students were recruited. In the 2nd year, one control school with two half-day classes discontinued its UPK program; therefore, the second cohort does not include children from that school. To compensate, enrollment was opened in one of the three remaining control schools to include children attending two half-day classes that were not designated specifically for lower-income children."

Attrition: Assessments occurred at baseline in the fall and at post-intervention in late spring of the same academic year. Between baseline and posttest, 5% of families were lost to attrition (n=162 at posttest). However, varying levels of available data were described for the individual measures, ranging from 50-88% across both assessment periods.

Sample:

Study children were an average of 4.14 years old at baseline, and 56% were girls. Thirty-nine percent identified as Black, 24% as Latino, 13% as White, 12% as Asian, and 12% as mixed race/ethnicity. Thirty-two percent were raised in single-parent families. The average age of primary caregivers was 33.8 years, and most primary caregivers (88%) were mothers. More than half (53%) of primary caregivers were born outside the United States. Families had an average of 2.26 children, including the child that participated in the intervention.

Measures:

Measures were collected from teachers, children, parents, and home observations of parent-child interactions. While observers were unaware of experimental conditions, teachers were aware of school assignments, helped deliver the program, and rated the children.

Effective parenting practices were assessed via parent self-reports of effective disciplinary practices using the Parenting Practices Interview (α=.61-.70); an author-developed test of knowledge of effective parent behavior management practices called the Effective Parenting Test (no validity reported); and observations of parenting effectiveness in semi-structured interactions in the home utilizing the Global Impressions of Parent-Child Interactions - revised tool, which displayed somewhat poor interrater reliability (ICC=.54).

Child behavior problems were assessed using the preschool version of the teacher-rated Behavior Assessment System for Children, which measures overall adaptive behaviors, as well as internalizing and externalizing problems (α=.83-.94). Behavior problems in the classroom were assessed using the New York Teacher Rating Scale, which focuses on diagnostic descriptors of oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder (α=.73). This scale was combined with the externalizing-problems scale.

Predictors of academic achievement including parent involvement and child school readiness skills. Parent involvement was assessed with teacher ratings using the Involvement in Education scale of the Involvement Questionnaire (α=.90). School readiness skills were evaluated with the Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning-3, a standardized test that assesses motor, language, and conceptual skills related to school readiness (test-retest reliability > .70).

Analysis:

The primary outcome variables were evaluated using multilevel regression analyses similar to MANOVAs, controlling for baseline outcomes and gender. These analyses allow for the simultaneous estimation of treatment impacts over multiple outcomes within a domain (e.g., child behavior problems), thus testing whether the impact differed across the outcomes or remained roughly equivalent within a domain. Tests included adjustments for classrooms and schools using random-effects models since schools were the unit of randomization. However, the level-2 sample size of eight is likely not large enough to accurately estimate the standard errors, and the result is to overstate the significance of the tests.

Intent-to-Treat: There were differing attrition rates at Time 2 for the different sources of data, with 12-27% for the teacher, child, and parent data, and 50% for home observation data. Multiple imputation was used to account for missing data on all measures except for home observation, which had poor compliance at baseline and was subsequently dropped from the analysis. The imputation was done separately for the intervention and control groups.

Outcomes

Implementation Fidelity:

Fidelity was measured with content and process checklists completed by group leaders, which indicated a high level of fidelity (>90%) to intervention manuals for each parent and child group session. However, parents did not attend all sessions, with 71% of families in intervention schools attending at least one group session and 54% attending 5 or more out of 13.

Baseline Equivalence:

Baseline equivalence was established on all outcome and demographic variables, except for the gender of participating children, with significantly more boys attending control schools.

Differential Attrition:

Tests found no differences in attrition by intervention condition or baseline outcomes, and only gender was significant for demographic variables (17% for boys, 7% for girls), though baseline-by-condition attrition was not tested.

Posttest:

Compared to the control group, parents of children in intervention schools displayed significant improvements in effective parenting practices (d=.50) and children had significantly fewer teacher-rated behavioral problems (d=.56) at posttest. The number of parenting sessions attended was significantly associated with this increase. The program did not significantly improve the teacher-rated measure of parent involvement or the standardized test of school readiness.

Study 2

The program for this study involved 1) group sessions for pre-K students and parents and 2) professional development for pre-K and kindergarten teachers and paraprofessionals. The professional development component for kindergarten teachers extended the program to kindergarten.

Evaluation Methodology

Design:

Recruitment: Ten high-poverty schools with pre-K programs were recruited from two school districts in New York City neighborhoods. The trial aimed to enroll all pre-K students in four consecutive years with the inclusion criterion of having an English-speaking caregiver (7% ineligible). Out of 1,280 potential participating children, 1,050 students were deemed eligible and consented.

Assignment: Schools were matched into pairs based on school size and then randomized into either an intervention condition (n=5) or an education-as-usual control (n=5) condition. Of the 1,050 students who were eligible and consented to participate, 561 were from intervention schools and 489 were from control schools.

Attrition: The five assessments for this pre-K program came at the beginning of pre-K (baseline), the end of pre-K (interim), the end of kindergarten (posttest), the end of first grade (one-year follow-up), and the end of second grade (two-year follow-up). Thus, children enrolled at age 4 and were followed to age 8. At posttest, Brotman et al. (2013) reported an overall attrition rate of 15.5% (n=162) due to withdrawal, transfers to other schools, and generally being lost to follow-up. Additional missing data on outcome measures, about 10% for the standardized test scores, came from absences during the day of testing. There was somewhat higher attrition for the second set of posttest phone-based family assessments (Dawson-McClure et al., 2015), which were completed by only 831 (79%) parents.

The two-year follow-up (Brotman et al., 2016) focused only on students (n=792) from the last three years of the study, as the first year was seen as needed for capacity building. On page 1151, the authors state: "Teacher ratings were missing for 16 (2.0%), 111 (14.0%), 270 (34.1%), and 334 (42.2%) cases at follow-up from pre-K through second grade, respectively; the KTEA score was missing for 169 children (21.3%) in kindergarten and 348 (43.9%) in second grade."

Sample:

At the school level, 71.9% were low-income (eligible for free lunch) and majority Black (90.7%). The participant-level data confirmed this: participating children were evenly split on gender, 85.4% Black (10.2% Latino), and 60.8% low-income. Just under half (44.7%) lived in a single-parent household, and 46.5% had a parent with a high school degree or less. Their neighborhoods were comprised of 67% single adults, had a 9.5% unemployment rate, contained 36.5% low-income households, and were 85.4% Black and 7.9% Latino.

Measures:

A variety of measures were collected by trained staff who were blind to condition, but several other measures came from teacher ratings or parent reports that were not independent. Ratings by first- and second-grade teachers at the follow-ups should be independent.

Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Achievement was assessed at the end of kindergarten and second grade using the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, a widely used and validated test. The analysis combined the three topic scores into a single measure. Pre-K baseline measures were taken from the more developmentally-appropriate Speed Diagnostic Indicators for the Assessment of Learning.

Global Academic Performance was assessed at the start and end of the pre-K and kindergarten academic years using the combination of teacher reports on 1) academic problems from a validated scale and 2) an academic progress measure developed for the study. The composite rating of performance was correlated positively (r = .55) with standardized test scores.

Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors were assessed at each of five time points using teacher ratings from the Behavioral Assessment System for Children, Second Edition. Specifically, the internalizing scale included items on anxiety, depression, and somatization; the externalizing scale included items on conduct problems, aggression, and hyperactivity. The two scales were standardized on age and sex and averaged to form a composite of mental health.

Parent-Reported Child Behavior and Conduct Problems were assessed at posttest using a modified version of the New York Rating Scale, which displayed good reliability (α=.75-.87).

Effective Parenting Outcomes were assessed at posttest using parent self-reports across three domains: positive behavior support, behavior management, and involvement in early learning. Knowledge of positive behavior support and effective behavior management was measured with the Effective Practices Test (validity not reported). Positive Behavior Support was measured with the Parenting Practices Interview, Positive Reinforcement subscale, which had adequate reliability (α=.66-.71). Harsh and Inconsistent Behavior Management was measured with two subscales of the Parenting Practices interview, Harsh and Inconsistent Discipline (α=.66-.72). Parent Involvement in Early Learning was assessed via parent self-reports based on the Involve Interview and the Parent Perceptions of Parent Efficacy tool (α=.73-.82). As a check, parent involvement was also assessed via teacher reports using the school activities subscale of the Involve Interview (α=.74-.81).

Analysis:

Brotman et al (2013) analyzed the data at the student level using MANOVA-like techniques and linear mixed-effects models with adjustments for clustering in classes and schools. However, the level-2 sample size of 10 is likely not large enough to accurately estimate the standard errors, and the result is to overstate the significance of the tests.

Multiple outcome scores were modeled simultaneously within broader domains (like child behavior problems or academic achievement), thus testing to see whether intervention impacts differed across outcomes or remained roughly equivalent within a domain. The models controlled for baseline school readiness - the pre-K equivalent of kindergarten academic performance - and implementation year. The teacher-rated outcomes, which were obtained over multiple years and defined growth trajectories, were modeled with time-by-condition interaction terms.

At the two-year follow-up, differences in academic performance and student behavior were assessed more typically using growth curve models over the post-program period with controls for baseline school readiness. However, the studies using this strategy (Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016) drew significance from the model's main effects of the intervention instead of the time-by-condition term, arguing that, although the initial gains made by the intervention group did not increase, they were maintained over time.

Intent-to-Treat: Despite some attrition, final analyses appeared to use all available data by incorporating multiple imputations rather than dropping cases with missing data. However, the first year of data was dropped altogether in the two-year follow-up.

Outcomes

Implementation Fidelity:

Fidelity was assessed in terms of adherence and facilitator competence. Multiple facilitators rated adherence to weekly protocols of key content and process elements; based on more than 300 sessions, adherence was 96% for parent group and 95% for child group sessions. While adherence was high on facilitator self-reports, attendance of weekly sessions was lower, with only 58% of families in intervention schools attending at least one group session and 39% attending 5 or more out of 13.

Baseline Equivalence:

Brotman et al. (2013) reported no significant differences between groups on any demographic or outcome variables at baseline in the posttest studies. Brotman et al. (2016) reported baseline differences in teacher-rated academic performance and mental health problems, which may have only been present in the subsample eligible for follow-up (i.e., the last three years of the four-year sample).

Differential Attrition:

At the kindergarten assessment, Brotman et al. (2013) reported that attrition did not differ by condition, outcomes, or demographic characteristics. The same held true for missing data on standardized tests. Despite a somewhat higher rate of attrition in the follow-up study (Brotman et al., 2016), children retained in second grade did not differ from those without data on demographics or outcomes. There were no tests in any of the studies for baseline-by-condition attrition.

Posttest:

At the kindergarten posttest, Brotman et al. (2013) found that, compared to the control schools, participants in the intervention schools scored significantly higher on kindergarten achievement test scores (d=.18) and teacher-rated academic performance (d=.25). Baseline school readiness did not moderate the intervention impact on these outcomes. However, the effect on teacher-rated academic performance did not reach significance until the last of four assessments in the spring of kindergarten.

On posttest parent outcomes (Dawson-McClure et al., 2015), compared to the control group, intervention parents had significantly higher knowledge (d=.32), positive behavior support (d=.16), and teacher-rated parental involvement (d=.38). There was no effect of the intervention on parent-reported child conduct problems, but boys with low self-regulation at baseline showed significant improvement, down to levels typical of lower-risk children. There was a significant exposure effect showing much better outcomes for those who attended the intervention.

Long-Term:

The two-year follow-up assessment (Brotman et al., 2016) found that intervention children had significantly fewer teacher-rated mental health problems (a composite of internalizing and externalizing; d=.44) than children in the control condition.

For teacher-rated academic performance, the intervention-by-time interaction was not significant, but the intervention main effect was significant and positive. The authors interpreted the results to say that the positive impacts found on teacher-rated academic performance at the end of kindergarten were maintained through second grade. Tests across two time points for standardized test scores showed no significant intervention-by-time interaction, which the authors again interpreted to say that the kindergarten effects were maintained. However, they also stated that the main effects of the intervention were only marginally significant for reading and non-significant for math.

Study 3

This article described two separate studies, but the ParentCorps program was examined only in the second study. It used the same data as in Study 2 above but selected a subsample for analysis.

Evaluation Methodology

Design:

Recruitment: The study began with the same 10 schools, four cohorts, and 1,050 eligible and consented students as in Study 2. However, for the long-term follow-up in second grade, only the first two cohorts had data (N = 496). The study then selected a subsample of children (N = 146) from these two cohorts who had elevated behavior problems or physical aggression at age four based on two teacher-rated scales: the Behavioral Assessment Scale for Children and the New York Teacher Rating Scale. Children with behavioral problems have been found to have an elevated risk of obesity.

Assignment: The 10 schools were randomly assigned to the intervention condition (N = 5) or the control condition (N = 5). After selection of the subsample, the intervention schools contained 106 students and the control schools contained 40 students.

Assessments/Attrition: The primary outcome assessment was conducted in second grade, but some outcome measures were available at baseline and three follow-ups. Of the 146 students, only 60 (41%) completed the second-grade follow-up. Nearly all the missing data came from students who had left the sample schools - data were obtained for 98% of students remaining in the schools.        

Sample:

The mean age was 4.38 years at baseline and 7.77 years at the last follow-up. About 87% of the children were black, 9% were Latino, and 4% were of other/mixed ethnicity. About 48% of parents had no more than a high school education; 16% had an annual household income below $15,000; 44% lived below the federal poverty guidelines; and 51% were single parents.

Measures:

The primary outcome measure, BMI, came from measurements of height (using a stadiometer) and weight (using an electronic scale) done by trained medical students or research assistants masked to intervention assignment. BMI z-scores were standardized by age and sex according to growth charts. A dichotomous indicator of obesity (BMI > 95th percentile) was used to evaluate clinical impact.

Because BMI measures were unavailable at baseline, the study used an additional measure of body size rating at baseline and three follow-ups. Research assistants used archived videotapes obtained during school assessments of child behavior to rate body size on a 9-point standardized scale.

Parents reported on their children's sedentary activity with two items assessing the amount of time children spent watching television and other screen time (e.g., video games, computers or the Internet) on a typical day. They also reported on the frequency with which their children engaged in five types of moderate-to-vigorous physical activities in the past week. Although parents helped deliver the program, the ratings on health behavior did not relate to program content and appear independent.

Analysis:

The analysis used linear and logistic regression models with the effect of school clustering taken "into account by allowing for correlation between outcomes of children from the same school" (p. e624). However, the level-2 sample size of ten is likely not large enough to accurately estimate the standard errors, and the result is to overstate the significance of the tests. The models for BMI adjusted for the baseline body size rating but lacked an exact baseline outcome control. The growth models for the body size rating, which was available at three follow-up points, used generalized estimating equations and intervention-by-age interaction terms. The models for health behaviors did not include a baseline outcome control.

Intent-to-Treat: Multiple imputation was used for BMI and the body size rating but not for the health behavior outcomes.

Outcomes

Implementation Fidelity:

Not discussed.

Baseline Equivalence:

The conditions did not differ significantly on sociodemographic characteristics, although the authors noted a non-significant pattern for the baseline body size rating to be lower in the intervention condition than the control condition.

Differential Attrition:

Those who completed (n = 60) and did not complete the follow-up did not differ significantly with respect to age, ethnicity, or body size rating.

Posttest:

The trajectory results described below showed effects on body size rating at posttest, but most of the results focused on the long term.

Long-Term:

The baseline adjusted models of BMI and body size rating in Table 1 showed significant intervention effects in three of four tests (with p = .06 for the fourth). Analysis of developmental trajectories for body size rating found that condition differences emerged early and were maintained over time (Figure 1).

Table 2 for the models of health behaviors did not present main effects. Tests done separately by gender found no significant effects, but there was a marginally significant intervention effect on physical activity for boys (p = .06) and a marginally significant effect on sedentary behavior for girls (p =.09).