Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS)

Assessment Rating:
A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated
See entire scale

Marilee Comfort, PhD and Phil Gordon, PhD

Description / Purpose:

KIPS assesses the quality of parenting behavior for families with young children. The KIPS focuses on 12 behaviors related to effective parenting that research has shown to promote children's development.

KIPS is a tool to effectively measure parenting behaviors. Family service programs commonly aim to enhance parenting to promote children's development. However, few programs directly assess parenting behavior. By assessing parenting, you can tailor services to individual families, track parenting progress, and document program outcomes. KIPS assesses a caregiver (e.g. parent, other family member) interacting with a child. The observation requires approximately 20 minutes (15 minutes of free play and 5 minutes of clean up, if appropriate). Scoring takes 10 minutes. To assure reliability, we recommend that you videotape the play session and score later.12 Key Parenting Behaviors Assessed:

  1. Sensitivity of Responses
  2. Supports Emotions
  3. Physical Interaction
  4. Involvement in Child's Activities
  5. Open to Child's Agenda
  6. Engagement in Language Experiences
  7. Reasonable Expectations
  8. Adapts Strategies to Child
  9. Limits & Consequences
  10. Supportive Directions
  11. Encouragement
  12. Promotes Exploration & Curiosity

Target Population: Families with children 2 to 71 months of age

Time to Administer: 15 to 20 minutes for observation of parent-child play and 15 minutes for scoring

Completed By: Family services practitioners in health, education or social services settings; program evaluators and researchers have also found KIPS useful in measuring parenting outcomes.

Modalities Available: Paper and pencil; site license agreement may be drafted to include KIPS scores in a local electronic scoring system.

Scoring Information: KIPS scoring forms include: a) Observation Notes;  b) 5-point rating scales for each of the 12 parenting behaviors that are observed;  c) Family Interaction Planning Guide to reflect on strengths and areas for growth; d) Summary Sheet

Languages Available: English, Spanish — the rating for the measure is based solely on the English version of the measure.

Training Requirements for Intended Users: Both paraprofessionals and professionals may train on KIPS. Those with solid knowledge of early child development are most successful. KIPS requires online training and annual certification for valid use. Onsite training is also available..

Availability: KIPS training and materials may be ordered online through the Comfort Consults website.

Contact Information

Company: Interactive Parenting Technology, LLC
Name: Jade Jensen
Phone: (402) 370-9747
Company: Comfort Consults LLC.
Name: Phil Gordon, PhD
Phone: (610) 455-1463

Summary of Relevant Psychometric Research

This tool has received the Measurement Tools Rating of "A – Psychometrics Well-Demonstrated" based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The tool must have 2 or more published, peer-reviewed studies that have established the measure’s psychometrics (e.g., reliability and validity, sensitivity and specificity, etc.). Please see the Measurement Tools Rating Scale for more information.

Comfort, M., & Gordon, P. R. (2006). The Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS): A practical observational assessment of parenting behavior. NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Intervention Field, 9(1), 22-48.


Participants — 101 caregiver child dyads.

Race/Ethnicity — 59% African American, 27% Caucasian, 9% Latino, 4% Asian


The KIPS was used with a sample of caregiver child dyads, including some parents in a residential substance abuse program for mothers; fathers and stepfathers in a study of a Head Start program; and two community samples used to design trainings. Inter-rater reliability was assessed with two coders, showing high inter-rater agreement. Construct validity was measured by looking at the association of the KIPS with the Parent Child Interaction Scale (PCIS). Analysis found that the KIPS was associated with the Quality subscale of the PCIS, but not with other subscales. Researchers also assessed face validity through provider focus groups and by comparing KIPS items to lists of behaviors important to assess parenting that were generated by participants at national Child Welfare conferences. In a second study, 20 family service providers were recruited from Parents as Teachers, and Early Head Start for a field test. Results showed that the practitioners could reliably use the assessment.

Comfort, M., Gordon, P. R., & Naples, D. (2011). KIPS: An evidence-based tool for assessing parenting strengths and needs in diverse families, Infants & Young Children, 24(1), 56-74.


Participants — Construct Validity Study – 397 parents/caregivers Criterion Validity Study – 130 parents/caregivers

Race/Ethnicity — Construct Validity Study – 52% African Americans, 33% Whites, 9% Latino, and 6% Other Criterion Validity Study – 42% African Americans, 40% Whites, 12% Latino, and 7% Other


The study aimed to examine the construct validity of Keys to Interactive Parenting Scale (KIPS) with diverse families in three racial/ethnic groups and to assess its criterion validity with two well-established measures. Sixty-seven family support workers (FSWs) volunteered to participate from 11 Healthy Families Virginia (HFV) programs across Virginia. Families listed in their case loads were randomly selected and invited to participate. The FSWs filmed 20 minutes of free play between each participating parent (or caregiver) and his or her child, ages 2 months through 5 years and 11 months, in the home or familiar community setting. After the video, the parent completed two study questionnaires, the Family Info Form and the Knowledge of Child Development Scale (KCDS). The FSW completed the Staff Rating of Caregiver Engagement (SRCE) and provided a copy of the child's recent Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), completed within 3 weeks of the video session. Comparison of KIPS mean scores indicated no significant difference by parent race/ethnicity. KIPS mean scores were positively associated with caregiver age (adults > teens), marital status (married > single), and education (college > high school or less). The results of the test-retest study demonstrated high correlation of KIPS mean scores. For the construct validity study, KIPS scores correlated significantly with the FSW's rating of caregiver engagement in services, but not with other service factors including months enrolled in the program, frequency of visits, and home visit completion rate. Significant correlations of KIPS mean scores also were found with parent knowledge of child development and behavioral expectations. For the criterion validity study, a subgroup of 130 families volunteered to participate in two additional assessments, the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale (NCATS) and Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME). The results showed significant positive correlations of KIPS mean scores with NCATS and HOME subscale scores.

Date Reviewed: August 2020 (Originally reviewed in June 2009)