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ParentCorps

Blueprints Program Rating: Model

A family-centered intervention that is delivered as an enhancement to pre-kindergarten programs serving children living in low-income neighborhoods. It helps the important adults in young children’s lives — parents and teachers — build a strong early foundation that gives children living under stressful conditions the greatest opportunity for healthy development.

  • Laurie Miller Brotman
  • Director, Center for Early Childhood Health and Development
  • New York University Langone Health
  • Department of Population Health
  • 220 E. 30th Street
  • New York City, NY 10016
  • laurie.brotman@nyumc.org
  • Academic Performance
  • Externalizing
  • Internalizing

    Program Type

    • Parent Training
    • School - Individual Strategies
    • Teacher Training

    Program Setting

    • School

    Continuum of Intervention

    • Universal Prevention (Entire Population)

    A family-centered intervention that is delivered as an enhancement to pre-kindergarten programs serving children living in low-income neighborhoods. It helps the important adults in young children’s lives — parents and teachers — build a strong early foundation that gives children living under stressful conditions the greatest opportunity for healthy development.

      Population Demographics

      Early Childhood (3-5)

      Age

      • Early Childhood (3-4) - Preschool

      Gender

      • Male and Female

      Family

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

      • Family
      Risk Factors
      • Family: Poor family management*
      Protective Factors
      • Family: Non-violent discipline*, Parental involvement in education*

      *Risk/Protective Factor was significantly impacted by the program.

      See also: ParentCorps Logic Model (PDF)

      ParentCorps is an evidence-based intervention 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 leaders, teachers, mental health professionals and parent support staff, parenting program for families of pre-k students, and social emotional learning classroom curriculum for pre-k students.

      ParentCorps is an evidence-based intervention 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.

      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).

      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.

      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 cohorts of Pre-K students with English-speaking parents were recruited, yielding 171 participating families. Assessments occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation) and posttest in late spring of the same academic year, with 5% of families lost to attrition.

      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. Four consecutive years of pre-kindergarteners were studied for a total of 1050 participating children. Assessments occurred at baseline (fall semester prior to program initiation), in late spring of the same academic year and at the end of the kindergarten school year. The latter three of four cohorts were followed through the end of second grade.

      In Study 1, Brotman et al. (2011) found that, compared to the control condition, parents in schools assigned to intervention displayed significant improvements in effective parenting practices and children significantly reduced 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), at the end of kindergarten and sustained through the end of second grade, participants in the intervention schools displayed significantly higher academic achievement than control students. 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 1 (Brotman et al., 2011) at posttest, compared to the control group, participants in the intervention group scored significantly better on:

      • Effective parenting practices
      • 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:

      • Scored significantly higher on independent academic achievement tests and teacher-rated academic performance at the end of kindergarten, with a sustained effect on academic achievement rated by teachers at 8 years of age
      • Had significantly higher parent and teacher-rated effective parenting practices at the end of kindergarten
      • Showed significantly less child internalizing and externalizing problems at two-year follow-up (age 8)

      Not examined.

      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).

      Tested in 18 high-poverty public schools with Pre-K programs in New York City with more than 1200 children.

      Study 1 (Brotman et al., 2011):

      • Did not test baseline-by-condition attrition
      • Some measures did not report or displayed low validity/reliability
      • Some clustering effects, with only eight schools in sample

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

      • Did not test baseline-by-condition attrition but used multiple imputation with assumption of missing at random
      • Validity low or not reported for some program-developed measures; however, for the main outcomes well-established tests were used
      • Baseline differences on 2 teacher-rated outcomes assessed in the follow-up sample but analyses controlled for the baseline indicators

      • Blueprints: Model
      • SAMHSA: 3.2-3.6

      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.

      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.

      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. Prevention Science, 16(2), 279-290.

      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

      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.

      Evaluation Methodology

      Design:

      Recruitment: Two cohorts of pre-kindergarten children from eight high-poverty public elementary schools were recruited from the New York City school system 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), of which 171 consented.

      Assignment: 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). 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.

      Attrition: 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:

      Assessments occurred at baseline and post-intervention, in late spring of the same academic year. Measures were collected from teachers, children, parents, and home observations of parent-child interactions. While observers were blinded to experimental condition, teachers and parents, who were aware of school assignment produced ratings.

      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).

      Predictors of academic achievement including parent involvement and child school readiness skills were assessed with teacher ratings of parent involvement 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 test, which assesses motor, language, and conceptual skills related to school readiness (reliability not reported).

      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), testing to see whether the impact differs across the outcomes or remains roughly equivalent within a domain. Tests included adjustments for classrooms and schools using random effects models, since schools were the unit of randomization. Effects of greater exposure, or attending more parent sessions on effective parenting practices, were studied with a similar dose-response analysis.

      Intent-to-Treat: There were differing attrition rates at Time 2 for the different sources of data ranging from 12-27% for 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. Missing home observations were largely a function of high rates of refusal and all other available data were used in accordance with intent to treat.

      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 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 significantly reduced behavioral problems (d=.56) at posttest. The number of parenting sessions attended was significantly associated with this increase.

      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.

      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. Prevention Science, 16(2), 279-290.

      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 4 consecutive years with the inclusion criterion of having an English-speaking caregiver (7% ineligible). Out of 1280 potential participating children, 1050 students were deemed eligible and consented.

      Assignment: Schools were blocked on size and then randomized into either intervention (n=5) or control (n=5) conditions. Of the 1050 participants enrolled in these schools, 561 were from intervention schools and 489 were allocated to the control group.

      Attrition: At posttest (at the end of kindergarten), for primary measures (teacher reports and child assessments; Brotman et al., 2013) there was an overall attrition rate of 15.5% (n=162) due to withdrawal, transfers to other schools, and generally being lost to follow-up. There was somewhat higher attrition for a second set of posttest phone-based family assessments (Dawson-McClure et al., 2015), which were completed by only 831 (79%) parents. The 2-year follow-up (Brotman et al., 2016) focused only on students (n=792) from the latter 3 years of the study. While the study states that 10% (n=78) of that sample “were unavailable for follow-up”, only 485 (61% of eligible) students “had complete outcome data through second grade” (pg. 1152).

      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:

      Assessments took place at baseline, at the end of Pre-K and Kindergarten (posttest), and at 2-year follow-up. 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 may be biased.

      Reading, Writing, and Mathematics Achievement were assessed using the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, a widely used and validated test. It was administered at the end of the kindergarten year and in second grade, at 2-year follow-up. Baseline measures were taken from the more developmentally-appropriate Speed Diagnostic Indicators for the Assessment of Learning.

      Global Academic Performance was assessed at baseline, posttest, and 2-year follow-up using teacher reports of academic problems developed for the study (no validity reported).

      Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors were assessed at every time point 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:

      The data were analyzed at the student level using MANOVA-like analyses and linear mixed-effects models with adjustments for clustering in classes and schools. Multiple outcome scores were modeled simultaneously within broader domains (like child behavior problems or academic achievement), testing to see whether intervention impacts differed across outcomes or remained roughly equivalent within a domain. At 2-year follow-up, differences in academic performance and student behavior were assessed more typically using growth curve models with controls for baseline school readiness; however, the studies using this strategy (Dawson-McClure et al., 2015; Brotman et al., 2016) draw significance from the model’s main effects of the intervention instead of the time-by-interaction term more commonly used for inference due to time being centered at the follow-up time point. Dose-response analyses were used to estimate the effect of exposure to family sessions on academic achievement and performance, and parenting outcomes.

      Intent-to-Treat: Despite some attrition, final analyses appear to use all available data by incorporating multiple imputations rather than dropping cases with missing data.

      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:

      There were no significant differences reported between groups on any demographic or outcome variables at baseline in the posttest studies, though the Brotman et al. (2016) study reports baseline differences in teacher-rated academic performance and mental health problems, which may have only been present in the subsample eligible for follow-up.

      Differential Attrition:

      At posttest there was an overall attrition rate of 15.5%, though attrition did not differ by condition, outcomes, or demographic characteristics. Despite a somewhat higher rate of attrition in the follow-up study, 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 posttest, 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); however, the study was very under-powered to detect these sizes of effects (80% power to detect d=.33). Baseline school readiness did not moderate the intervention impact on these outcomes. However, dose-response analyses showed that the impact on reading increased with each family session attended.

      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 mental health problems (a composite of internalizing and externalizing; d=.44) than children in the control condition. Also, the positive impacts found on academic achievement and performance at the end of kindergarten were maintained through second grade.