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Evidence rating
Cost rating
Reviews: Foundations for Life, July 2016; February 2018

ParentCorps is a group-based programme for families with a four-year-old child living in disadvantaged, urban communities.

It aims to help parents support their child’s social, emotional and self-regulatory skills in order to encourage healthy development and school success.

The programme consists of 14 weekly sessions (each of a two-hour duration) with adjunctive components, depending on the participating families’ individual needs. It is delivered by mental health professionals, who lead the parent groups and school staff co-facilitating the pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) student sessions.

EIF Programme Assessment

Evidence rating

ParentCorps has evidence of a short-term positive impact on child outcomes from at least one rigorous evaluation.

What does the evidence rating mean?

Level 3 indicates evidence of efficacy. This means the programme can be described as evidence-based: it has evidence from at least one rigorously conducted RCT or QED demonstrating a statistically significant positive impact on at least one child outcome.

This programme does not receive a rating of 4 as it has not yet replicated its results in another rigorously conducted study, where at least one study indicates long-term impacts, and at least one uses measures independent of study participants. 

What does the plus mean?

The plus rating indicates that this programme has evidence from at least one level 3 study, along with evidence from other studies rated 2 or better.

Cost rating

A rating of 2 indicates that a programme has a medium-low cost to set up and deliver, compared with other interventions reviewed by EIF. This is equivalent to an estimated unit cost of £100–£499.

Child outcomes

According to the best available evidence for this programme's impact, it can achieve the following positive outcomes for children:

Enhancing school achievement & employment

Improved kindergarten achievement test scores - based on study 2

Improved academic performance - based on study 2

Preventing crime, violence and antisocial behaviour

Reductions in behavioural problems - based on study 1

This programme also has evidence of supporting positive outcomes for couples, parents or families that may be relevant to a commissioning decision. Please see About the evidence for more detail.


Key programme characteristics

Who is it for?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to the following age-groups:

  • Preschool

How is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to implementation through these delivery models:

  • Group

Where is it delivered?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation in these settings:

  • Children's centre or early-years setting
  • Primary school

How is it targeted?

The best available evidence for this programme relates to its implementation as:

  • Targeted selective

Where has it been implemented?

United States

UK provision

This programme has not been implemented in the UK.

UK evaluation

This programme’s best evidence does not include evaluation conducted in the UK.


About the programme

What happens during delivery?

How is it delivered?
  • ParentCorps has two group components – one delivered to groups of between 12 and 15 parents (the Parenting Programme), and the other delivered to groups of 18 to 20 children (the Programme for Pre-K Students). Each component is 14 sessions of two hours' duration.
  • ParentCorps is delivered by seven practitioners in total. The component delivered to parents is delivered by one mental health practitioner. Three pre-kindergarten teachers and three assistant teachers deliver the programme for children.
What happens during the intervention?
  • Both the component delivered to parents and the component delivered to children are held in adjacent classrooms. There are also some group activities designed to bring children and parents together to practise new skills.
  • In the parent component, each session begins with a five-minute video clip which illustrates behaviour management principles and concepts.
  • Didactics, discussion, group activities, role playing, homework assignments and problem-solving discussions are all used to teach parenting practices such as: establishing structure and routines for children, positive reinforcement (star charts), providing consistent, non-physical consequences for misbehaviour (time out) etc.
  • In the child groups, leaders use behaviour management practices to promote children’s positive behaviours and reduce or prevent problem behaviours. Children are exposed to the skills parents are learning, so as to increase their familiarity and acceptance of the practices when parents attempt them at home.

What are the implementation requirements?

Who can deliver it?
  • ParentCorps is delivered by seven practitioners. The component delivered to parents is delivered by one mental health practitioner (QCF-7/8). Three pre-kindergarten teachers (QCF-7/8) and three assistant teachers (QCF-6) deliver the programme for children.
What are the training requirements?
  • The mental health practitioner receives 56 hours of training, the pre-kindergarten teachers and the assistant teachers receive 42 hours of training.
How are the practitioners supervised?
  • It is recommended that practitioners are supervised by one host agency supervisor qualified to QCF-7/8 with 14 hours of training and two programme developer supervisors with no required training.
What are the systems for maintaining fidelity?
  • Training manual
  • Other online material
  • Face-to-face training
  • Supervision
  • Fidelity monitoring
  • Self-paced e-learning modules
Is there a licensing requirement?

There is no licence required to run this programme.

How does it work? (Theory of Change)

How does it work?
  • ParentCorps assumes that some parenting practices can inadvertently cause child conduct problems and reduce their educational attainment.
  • Parents learn how to use positive reinforcement and effective behaviour management strategies. These techniques are also directly introduced to the children by teachers.
  • In the short term, parents are more involved in parenting their children. They employ more effective parenting strategies allowing them to more effectively manage their children’s behaviour.
  • In the long term, children have less behavioural problems and perform better academically.

About the evidence

ParentCorps has evidence from one rigorously conducted RCT, along with evidence from an additional comparison group study.

Study 1

Citation: Brotman et al (2011)
Design: RCT (Cluster)
Country: United States
Sample: 8 schools, 171 families
Timing: -
Child outcomes: Reductions in behavioural problems
Other outcomes: Improved parenting practices

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

Available at

Study 2

Citation: Brotman et al (2013) and Dawson-McClure et al (2014)
Design: RCT (Cluster)
Country: United States
Sample: 10 schools, 1,050 children/families
Timing: -
Child outcomes: Improved kindergarten achievement test scores
Improved academic performance
Other outcomes: Improved parent involvement
Improved parent knowledge
Improved positive behaviour support

Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Calzada, E. J., Huang, K.-Y., Kamboukos, D., Palamar, J. J., & Petkova, E. (2013). Cluster (school) RCT of ParentCorps: Impact on kindergarten academic achievement. Pediatrics, 131(5), e1521-e1529.

Dawson-McClure, S., Calzada, E., Huang, K. Y., Kamboukos, D., Rhule, D., Kolawole, B., ... & Brotman, L. M. (2014). 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, 1-12.

Available at

Brotman et al., (2016) describes a follow-up paper to study 2 described above.

Only a subgroup of the initially randomised sample (i.e. children enrolled after the first year of programme implementation) were selected for the follow-up analyses, which included 792 children representing 3 of the 4 original cohorts. The Brotman et al., (2016) paper describes the 3-year follow-up assessments which were taken at the end of the second grade, and found statistically significant positive impact on child outcomes, including:

  • Reduced mental health problems over time (assessed using the Behaviour Assessment System for Children; teacher report)
  • Improved academic performance (based on teacher ratings; teacher report)

Due to concerns around potential attrition bias, these follow-up findings are not considered as robust as those highlighted above.

Brotman, L. M., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., Huang, K. Y., Calzada, E. J., 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. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(12): 1149-1155.

Available at 

More Less about study 2

Other studies

The following studies were identified for this programme but did not count towards the programme's overall evidence rating. A programme receives the same rating as its most robust study or studies.

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.

Hajizadeh, N., Stevens, E. R., Applegate, M., Huang, K. Y., Kamboukos, D., Braithwaite, R. S., Brotman, L. M. (2017). Potential return on investment of a family-centered early childhood intervention: a cost-effectiveness analysis. BMC Public Health, 17(1): 796.

Huang, K. Y., Nakigudde, J., Rhule, D., Gumikiriza-Onoria, J. L., Abura, G., Kolawole, B., Ndyanabangi, S., Kim, S., Seidman, E., Ogedegbe, G., Brotman, L. M. (2017). Transportability of an Evidence-Based Early Childhood Intervention in a Low-Income African Country: Results of a Cluster Randomized Controlled Study. Prevention Science, 18(8): 964-975.

Published March 2017   |   Last updated March 2018