Parenting Matters! Guide to Effective Intervention


A year ago in the KIPS Blog we announced the exceptional Parenting Matters report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. We are delighted that they have developed an interactive infographic on the Elements of Effective Intervention to make it easy to find the information you seek in this 400-page book. The infographic  links graphics to relevant chapters of the comprehensive 2016 report. Simply click on the graphics in the 7 slides of the infographic to go to specific sections of the report to learn more about each topic. You can purchase the entire book or, thankfully, download the full text of the report as a PDF at no charge. 

In case ou missed it, below is our previous description of the contents of the report.

 A 400-page report, Parenting Matters! has just been released by the National Academies of Science. This title is music to the ears of those of us who have made a career of working to promote quality parenting.  The report from the United States premier scientific authority validates our work, as is clear from its full title:Parenting Matters: Supporting Parents of Children Ages 0-8.  It reveals the results of a study sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families, along with the Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as several private foundations. 

Parenting Matters! reviews the research on parenting and the most effective strategies to support the parents of young children. I applaud this collaborative focus on parenting by major public and private organizations. This focus puts wind in the sails of our work with a strong breeze toward including evidence-based parenting services in the broad array of early childhood programs.

What Knowledge, Skills and Practices Do Parents Need? 

The report identified a fundamental set of parenting knowledge, skills and practices within a variety of service settings that are associated with improved child health, learning and development, including:

  • knowledge of child development
  • knowledge of services available to parents
  • knowledge of parenting practices
  • understanding contingent responsiveness (serve and return)
  • showing warmth and sensitivity
  • valuing schedules and reduced household chaos
  • reading and talking to children
  • using appropriate discipline
  • using practices that promote children’s health and safety.

Does this list ring true to you?  It should. This list is at the heart of everything we try to build as we support parents to be the best parents they can be for their children.  This is the basic, but complex set of knowledge and skills that parents must tackle when nurturing a young child.  

Common Elements of Effective Parenting Services

Parallel to the list of skills and practices for parents, the Parenting Matters! authors scanned the research and evaluation literature to identify a list of common elements of effective interventions that have demonstrated positive parenting outcomes. 

Here are the common elements to success that they found:

  • treating parents as equal partners in planning services
  • tailoring interventions to meet the specific needs of families
  • integrating multiple services for families
  • offering peer support opportunities for parents
  • addressing traumatic experiences
  • offering culturally relevant services for diverse families
  • enhancing efforts to involve fathers

(Parenting Matters! pages 292-293)

As you scan this list, I’m sure you can check off many of the elements that are components of your own services.  No matter which elements or service model we embrace, to figure out where to start and how to track progress in building each mother’s and father’s parenting skills, we need to observe and assess the 1-to-1 moments of parent-child interaction. The KIPS parenting assessment guides you in assessing parenting strengths and areas for improvement across 12 key behaviors that research has shown to promote children’s health, development and learning. 

On rating scales, like KIPS, the observed skills are assessed on a continuum.  Using a continuum to observe more than once, one can monitor progress over time.  A rating scale is more sensitive in detecting changes than a checklist.  This is especially important in documenting changes in parenting — for families, for program evaluation and for research.