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Effective Parenting Programmes Reduce Risk of Child Maltreatment

April 24, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Families Commissioner Belinda Milnes says there is urgent need to reduce the high number of vulnerable children in New Zealand who are at risk of harm now or in the future. One solution is to help parents of vulnerable children better care for and nurture their children.

“This is a complex environment and these families don’t live in silos. They are often grappling with a mix of issues including drug and alcohol abuse, family violence or maternal depression.”

Ms Milnes says, “This authoritative report by the Families Commission tells us that parenting programmes can bring about positive changes in parenting, child health and child behaviour, helping to reduce some of the parental risk factors associated with child maltreatment.

“Not surprisingly, the report finds there is no silver bullet – no single programme meets the complex needs of all families. But it does identify the common elements that make for an effective parenting programme and how to successfully implement them.”

The report reviewed current New Zealand parenting programmes, including those for Māori and Pacific people, and looked at international evidence to identify what works and what doesn’t. It identifies parenting programmes available in New Zealand that are effective at preventing maltreatment or addressing risk factors that may lead to maltreatment.

The report also looks at what can be done to improve parenting programmes so they are more effective in addressing the needs of parents of vulnerable children. Key findings include:

  • How a programme is implemented can be as important to child, parent and family outcomes as what is implemented.
  • Engaging and retaining parents in programmes is critical; the report recommends ways to achieve this.
  • A more systematic and rigorous approach to evaluation and implementation is needed to better understand if New Zealand parenting programmes are working and if not, to put in place a process to improve them.
  • Further work is also needed to identify what works for parents with multiple, complex needs; we need evidence-based programmes to address issues such as alcohol and drug use, family violence and mental health difficulties.

You can read the full report here.

Category: Research