Chicago Parent Program

About This Program

Target Population: Parents of young children 2-5 years old

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 2 – 5

Program Overview

The Chicago Parent Program (CPP) strengthens parenting confidence and skills and reduces behavior problems in children 2-5 years old. Designed in collaboration with an advisory board of African American and Latino parents raising young children in low-income neighborhoods, CPP addresses a gap in the availability of evidence-based parenting programs that specifically address the needs of this population of families. CPP is implemented in 12 two-hour group sessions facilitated by two trained group leaders. CPP uses video vignettes depicting parent-child interactions at home and in public (e.g., grocery stores, Laundromats, etc.) to stimulate discussion and problem solving related to managing children's behavior in challenging situations. Parents are guided in clarifying their goals and tailoring strategies to help meet their goals. In this way, the CPP is designed to be culturally and contextually relevant for a diverse population of families. Sessions focus on building positive relationships with children (e.g., child-centered time, family routines and traditions, praise and encouragement), child behavior management skills (setting clear expectations, following through with consequences, effective discipline strategies), stress management, and problem-solving skills. Following each session, parents complete practice assignments to help them apply the skills they are learning.

Program Goals

The goals of the Chicago Parent Program (CPP) are:

  • Improved parent-child relationships
  • Reduced parent reliance on harsh and inconsistent discipline strategies
  • Greater parenting confidence and competence
  • Strengthened and expanded parents' support network
  • Reduced frequency and intensity of child behavior problems

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Chicago Parent Program.

Essential Components

The essential components of the Chicago Parent Program (CPP) include:

  • Developed in collaboration with an advisory board of African American and Latino parents which helps frame the CPP parenting strategies to better address the needs of a culturally diverse population of families raising young children in urban communities
  • Uses multiple strategies to help parents learn:
    • Over 160 brief vignettes of parents and children engaged in challenging situations at home and in public settings (over 75% of the videos include families of color) viewed for discussion purposes
    • CPP sessions with role play or group activities designed to help parents try out new skills and receive feedback and support
    • Brief handouts distributed each week summarizing key messages from each session
    • Weekly practice assignments designed to help parents apply the new information with their children
  • Taught in a group format with a recommended 10-15 parents led by two trained group leaders
  • Uses a social-learning theory framework where parents learn a range of strategies for using their behavior, words, affect, and attention for guiding and selectively reinforcing children's behavior. These include:
    • Strategies for building a positive relationship with your child:
      • Spending child-centered time each day which can be woven into everyday activities (e.g., in the grocery store, while riding on the bus, during bath time)
      • Building routines into every day family life and honoring family traditions
      • Identifying child behaviors parents value and practicing different ways to reinforce those valued behaviors
    • Strategies for setting clear expectations for children:
      • How to state clear expectations and follow through consistently on those expectations
      • Reducing commands to those parents will truly follow through on
      • Effective use of natural consequences, logical consequences, when/then statements
      • Effective use of ignoring, distraction, and time-out techniques
      • The 8 Keys to Effective Discipline
    • Stress Management Techniques
    • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Group leaders trained to honor parents as the experts for their children and to facilitate problem-solving and mutual support among parents
  • Group format which enhances parents' support network

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Chicago Parent Program directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Parents wanting to manage child behavior problems involving noncompliance, oppositional behavior, aggression, whining, disrespect, uncooperative behavior; potentially poor
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Although the Chicago Parent Program directly targets parents, parents are encouraged to bring other family members to the groups if they are involved in caring for the child or they are an important support person for the parent (e.g., partners, grandparents).

Recommended Intensity:

Weekly 2-hour group sessions plus one booster session

Recommended Duration:

Approximately 4 months (11 weeks plus one booster session 4 weeks after the 11th week)

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)
  • Shelter (Domestic Violence, Homeless, etc.)


Chicago Parent Program includes a homework component:

After each session, parents receive a “practice assignment” designed to help the parent practice the new skill with their child(ren) during the week.


Chicago Parent Program has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • TV monitor/DVD or computer with projector
  • Room large enough for 12-20 adults with chairs that can be moved to form a circle for discussion
  • A white board, chalkboard, or large paper for making lists during group discussions
  • Two trained group leaders
  • Refreshment for parents during the group sessions
  • Childcare is highly recommended to encourage parent attendance
  • Strong support from agency leadership

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

To be a Group Leader, the qualifications include at least a high school diploma, excellent interpersonal skills, and experience working with adults and families. A mental health background is preferred but not required.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contacts:
Training Type/Location:

Training offered at least annually in Baltimore, MD, and in Chicago, IL. Training may also be offered at the agency site.

Number of days/hours:

2 days for 16 hours total

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Chicago Parent Program as listed below:

A FAQ document is available on the Chicago Parent Program (CPP) website ( to assist organizations in assessing whether they have sufficient resources to implement the CPP with quality and whether the goals of the program are compatible with the needs of the agency. Organizations interested in implementing the CPP are encouraged to contact program developers to discuss organizational readiness and availability of resources for sustaining the CPP.

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of Chicago Parent Program as listed below:

In person or distance consultation is available for supporting implementation and technical assistance. CPP group leaders are encouraged to become certified. Group leaders interested in becoming certified are required to submit a minimum of 3 audio recorded group sessions for independent fidelity rating. Group leaders receive written detailed feedback and numeric ratings of their group leading skill and extent of adherence to program components. A mechanism for submitting digitally recorded sessions online and explanation of the certification process is described on the CPP website.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for Chicago Parent Program as listed below:

The Chicago Parent Program Fidelity Checklist is used to assess group leader competence and adherence. Fidelity assessments are conducted by independent raters who have been trained and have demonstrated reliability. The Fidelity Checklist scales are available in the Chicago Parent Program Manual. A study testing the reliability and validity of the Fidelity Checklist was published in a peer-reviewed journal:

  • Breitenstein, S. M., Fogg, L., Garvey, C., Hill, C., Resnick, B., & Gross, D. (2010). Measuring implementation fidelity in a community-based parenting intervention. Nursing Research, 59, 158-165.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for Chicago Parent Program as listed below:

Manuals are required for implementation and are purchased as part of the CPP group leader training. Manuals are also available for purchase (in English or Spanish) on the CPP website.

Research on How to Implement the Program

Research has been conducted on how to implement Chicago Parent Program as listed below:

  • Breitenstein, S., Fogg, L., Ocampo, E., Acosta, D., & Gross, D. (2016). Parent use and efficacy of a self-administered, tablet-based parent training intervention. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 4(2), Article e36.
  • Breitenstein, S. & Gross, D. (2013). Web-based delivery of a preventive parent training intervention: A feasibility study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 26, 149-157.
  • Breitenstein, S., Shane, L, Julion, W., & Gross, D. (2014). Developing the eCPP: Adapting an evidence-based parent training program for digital delivery in primary care. Worldviews on Evidence-based Nursing, 11(3), 168-176.
  • Gross, D., Belcher, H., Ofonedu, M., Breitenstein, S., Frick, K., & Budhathoki, C. (2014). Study protocol for a comparative effectiveness trial of two parent training programs in a fee-for-service mental health clinic: Can we improve mental health services to low-income families. Trials, 15, Article 70.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Gross, D., Garvey, C., Julion, W., Fogg, L., Tucker, S., & Mokros, H. (2009). Efficacy of the Chicago Parent Program with low-income African-American and Latino parents of young children. Prevention Science, 10, 54-65.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 253


  • Age — Children: 2-4 years, Caregivers: Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — Children: Not specified; Caregivers: 58.9% African American, 32.8% Latino, 8.3% Other
  • Gender — Children: 141 Boys and 112 Girls; Caregivers: 225 Mothers, 17 Fathers, and 11 Not specified (e.g., foster parents or grandparents)
  • Status — Participants were parents and children from seven day care centers serving low-income families.

Location/Institution: Chicago, Illinois

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study tested the efficacy of the Chicago Parent Program (CPP). Day care centers were matched and randomly assigned to the CPP and wait-list control condition. Measures utilized include the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI), the Toddler Care Questionnaire (TCQ), the Parenting Questionnaire (PQ) and the Dyadic Parent–Child Interactive Coding System-Revised (DPICSR). Results indicated at 1-year follow-up, as compared to control group parents, CPP parents used less corporal punishment and issued fewer commands with their children, while CPP children exhibited fewer behavior problems during observed play and clean-up sessions than controls, but no differences on the ECBI. Among parents who participated in at least 50% of CPP sessions, there was greater improvement in parenting self-efficacy, more consistent discipline, greater warmth, and a decline in child behavior problems when compared to reports from controls. CPP children exhibited fewer behavior problems during observed sessions than controls, but there was no difference between the two groups on the ECBI. Limitations include parents were not randomly assigned to dose level, high attrition, and generalizability to other ethnic populations.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6 months and 1 year.

Gross, D., Johnson, T., Ridge, A., Garvey, C., Julion, W., Brusius Treysman, A., Breitenstein, S., & Fogg, L. (2011). Cost-effectiveness of childcare discounts on parent participation in preventive parent training in low-income communities. Journal of Primary Prevention, 32, 283–298.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 174


  • Age — Children: Not specified, Parents: Mean= 28.5-29.7 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Children: Not specified, Parents: 55% African American, 42% Latino, and 3% Other
  • Gender — Children: 53% Male, Parents: 89% Female
  • Status — Participants were parents from day care centers serving low-income families.

Location/Institution: Chicago, Illinois

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study tested the cost-effectiveness of giving low-income parents childcare discounts contingent on their participation in the Chicago Parent Program (CPP). Eight centers were matched and randomized to an experimental condition in which parents received a discount on their child care bill or a control group with no financial incentive. Measures utilized include the Participation Motivation Form and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Results indicate that parents in the discount condition were 15.4% more likely to enroll than control parents, though this difference was not significant. There were no differences in parent training attendance, parents' motivations for enrolling, or the degree to which parents were actively engaged in parent training sessions by condition. Despite the added cost of the discounts, there was no difference in group costs by condition. Limitations include data should have been analyzed as a group randomized trial using random effects multi-level models since randomization occurred at the site level, did not compare the effects of different discount amounts on parent participation, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Breitenstein, S., Gross, D., Fogg, L., Ridge, A., Garvey, C., Julion, W., & Tucker, S. (2012). The Chicago Parent Program: Comparing 1-year outcomes for African American and Latino parents of young children. Research in Nursing & Health, 35, 475-489.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 504


  • Age — Children: Mean=2.81 years, Parents: Mean=30.9 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Children: Not specified; Parents: 291 African American and 213 Latino
  • Gender — Children: 274 Boys and 230 Girls; Parents: 452 Female, 33 Male, and 17 Not specified
  • Status — Participants were parents and children from day care centers serving low-income families.

Location/Institution: Chicago, Illinois

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study tested the efficacy of the Chicago Parent Program (CPP) utilizing data from two prevention randomized trials that were merged to compare its effects for African-American versus Latino parents and their preschool children for reducing behavior problems and increasing parenting skills. In Study 1 (2001–2006), [Gross, et al. (2009)] the day care centers were matched on size, racial/ethnic composition, percent single parent households, and median income before randomizing them to waitlist control or intervention conditions. In Study 2 (2006–2011), [Gross, et al. (2011)] the focus was on the effects of financial incentives on parent attendance in CPP; half of the centers were randomized to offer a discount on day care costs for attending CPP. Data from Study 1 and Study 2 were combined for this paper. After 1 year, participants were recruited from new parents in the same centers. In both studies, participants in the control condition completed all measures but did not receive the intervention. Measures utilized include the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory (ECBI), the Toddler Care Questionnaire (TCQ), the Parenting Questionnaire (PQ), the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form (C-TRF) and the Dyadic Parent—Child Interactive Coding System-Revised (DPICSR). Results indicate that the CPP led to significant improvements in parenting self-efficacy, parent use of effective discipline strategies, and parent and child behavior for both African American and Latino parents and their children. Significant overall intervention effects were found for parenting self-efficacy, more consistent use of discipline, and parent reports of child behavior problems, with the greatest improvements in all three variables reported immediately following the intervention. CPP parents also reduced their use of corporal punishment compared to control group parents. Although, at postintervention, CPP children exhibited fewer behavior problems while control children exhibited more behavior problems by the 1-year follow-up, reductions in behavior problems to rates below those found at baseline were observed in both groups of children. Limitations include generalizability to other ethnic populations and that different teachers provided child behavior ratings as children moved to different childcare classrooms or from childcare to kindergarten.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 year.

Additional References

Gross, D., Breitenstein, S., Eisbach, S., Hoppe, E., & Harrison, J. (2014). Promoting mental health in early childhood programs: Serving low-income ethnic minority families. In M. Weist, N. Lever, C. Bradshaw, & J. Owens (Eds.), Handbook of school mental health (2nd ed., pp. 109-130). Springer.

Gross, D., Garvey, C., Julion, W., & Fogg, L. (2007). Preventive parent training with low-income ethnic minority parents of preschoolers. In J. M. Briesmeister & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Handbook of parent training: Helping parents prevent and solve problem behaviors (3rd ed., pp. 5-24). John Wiley & Sons.

Gross, D., Julion, W., Garvey, C., & Breitenstein, S. (2010). The Chicago Parent Program: Group leader manual (2nd ed.). Rush University Medical Center.

Contact Information

Deborah Gross, DNSc, RN
Agency/Affiliation: Johns Hopkins University
Department: School of Nursing
Phone: (410) 614-5311

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: June 2019

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: October 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: July 2016