- Long-term changes in parenting and child behavior after the Home-Start family support program
- Children and Youth Services Review
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
Background: The intervention Home-Start is a wide spread program in a number of countries, among which the Netherlands. In Home-Start, trained volunteers visit families with young children in need of support once or twice a week to help them to deal with problems in family life and parenting. Little is known, however, about the effects of Home-Start. This study describes short-term and long term changes in families that participated in Home-Start.
Methods: Three groups of families with young children (at the start mean age 1 1/2 years) were followed over a period of four years. One of the groups of families participated in the Home-Start family support program in the first 6.6 months of this period. The two other groups were (1) a randomly selected community sample and (2) a group of families with elevated parenting stress and a need for support. Data were collected at the beginning of the study, (after median 1.4 months), directly after the intervention (median 6.6 months) and at two follow-up occasions (respectively, median 12.5 and 49.2 months after the first measurement). At the last measurement, data were available for 33, 45 and 34 families respectively.
Results: Multilevel analysis showed more positive changes in parental wellbeing, competence and behavior (more consistent behavior and less rejection) during the intervention period in the Home-Start group than in the two other groups. At the three year follow up, the Home-Start group showed, compared to the other groups, more improvements in parenting (more responsiveness), but also diminished child externalizing and internalizing behavior problems (less oppositional defiant behavior, affective problems and anxiety problems).
Conclusions: Home-Start seems a promising family support intervention that deserves to be studied more extensively.
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