Information for commissioners

Commissioning programmes for parents and children is a challenging job. Commissioners often find themselves under considerable pressure to identify services and programmes that will meet the needs of their community and provide value for money. In order to make effective commissioning decisions, commissioners require a great deal of information about what the programme does and how it can be delivered. This information includes:

  • Who the programme is for?
  • What agencies can deliver it?
  • Who can deliver it?
  • How can it be delivered?
  • How much does it cost?

Most importantly, commissioners need to know whether the programme works. In other words, commissioners need to know whether the programme has evidence of effectively improving parent and child outcomes in a way that will also have a positive impact on the community.

This site provides the answers to all of these questions through detailed information about parenting programmes with a proven track record of improving parent and child outcomes and reducing community costs. Specifically, this website provides information about evidence-based parenting interventions, meaning that all of the interventions listed here have some objective evidence of consistently improving outcomes for parents and children. This means that the parenting programme has undergone an evaluation that has:

  • Observed a statistically significant positive change in one child outcome or one parent/child outcome
  • Observed this change with standardised measures completed by the parents before and after participating in the programme
  • Observed this change with at least 20 families representative of the target population
  • Observed no negative changes in the parents’ or child’s behaviour.

In addition, all of the programmes listed on this site are purposely designed as parenting programmes. This means that their content and activities specifically aim to improve the parent/child relationship and/or help parents manage their children’s behaviour.

The very best programmes on this site also share these key characteristics:

An appropriately specified target population and recruitment process The programme has clearly specified the children’s age and level of need. The programme also has good systems for understanding whether the programme is meeting each family’s needs.

Evidence-based content and activities The programme’s content is informed by scientifically proven theories of child development and therapeutic practice and the activities are sufficient for parents to learn new ideas and skills.

Training and implementation support The best programmes provide excellent training and implementation support to ensure that positive outcomes can be replicated in new and independent settings.

Strong evaluation evidence All of the programmes on this site have some objective evidence of improving children’s behaviour and/or development. International organisations, including the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the World Health Organisation, agree that the strongest evidence comes from randomised controlled trials that compare the programme’s effectiveness to the effectiveness of another programme, or no programme at all. The parenting programmes appearing on this site are rated in keeping with these internationally recognised standards:

  • **** are awarded to programmes with strong evidence of effectiveness, meaning that they have evidence of a positive outcomes for children or parents lasting a year or more from at least two randomized controlled trials.
  • *** are awarded to programmes with promising evidence, meaning that they have evidence from a single randomised controlled trial demonstrating a positive short term outcome for parents and children.
  • ** are awarded to programmes with preliminary evidence of improving a child outcome. This means that the parents and/or child will have completed objective, standardised measures before the start of the programme and then again when the programme is through. While this evidence is not sufficient to link the positive family effects to the programme (since there isn’t a comparison group), it is considered a preliminary indicator that the programme is potentially effective.

Programmes without any objective evidence of improving a child outcome or a parent/child outcome are not listed on this website.

If you have a query about any of the programmes listed on this site, contact details for providers and developers are included in the downloadable PDFs. Many of the programmes listed have their own websites, some of which provide examples of programme materials for parents and training opportunities for practitioners.

If you’d like to find out more about the commissioning process, the following sites provide lots of good advice:

C4EO Commissioning Support