Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

About This Program

Target Population: Families who had been reported to the child welfare system for child maltreatment including physical and emotional maltreatment in addition to child neglect; may be used as a court-ordered parenting program

Program Overview

The Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers is a family-centered program designed for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Both parents and their children birth to five years participate in home-based, group-based, or combination group-based and home-based program models. Lessons are competency-based ensuring parental learning and mastery of skills.

The program lessons focus on remediating five parenting patterns known to form the basis of maltreatment:

  • Having inappropriate developmental expectations of children
  • Demonstrating a consistent lack of empathy towards meeting children’s needs
  • Expressing a strong belief in the use of corporal punishment and utilizing spanking as their principle means of discipline
  • Reversing the role responsibilities of parents and children so that children learn to become the caregivers to their parents
  • Oppressing the power and independence of children by demanding strict obedience to their commands

Built in assessments (pre, process, and post) allow the practitioner and the parents to track the acquisition of new knowledge, beliefs and skills.

Program Goals

The overall goals of Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers are:

  • Measurable gains in the individual self-worth of parents and children
  • Measurable gains in parental empathy and meeting their own adult needs in healthy ways
  • Measurable gains in parental empathy towards meeting the needs of their children
  • Utilization of dignified, non-violent disciplinary strategies and practices
  • Measurable gains in empowerment of the parents and their children
  • Measurable gains in nurturing parenting beliefs, knowledge and utilization of skills and strategies as measured by program assessment inventories
  • Reunification of parents and their children who are in foster care
  • High rate of attendance and completion of their program
  • Low rates of recidivism of program graduates

Essential Components

The essential components of Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers include:

  • Three different models allow for flexibility in delivering the program lessons:
    • Home-based Model:
      • 1 Home Visitor to 1-2 Parents of a child(ren) birth to 5 years old
    • Group-based Model:
      • 2 Facilitators for 12-15 Parents
      • 3 or more facilitators for the children’s program depending on their ages
      • Children grouped by age and capability: infants (birth to 1 year), toddlers (1 to 2 years), and preschoolers (3 to 5 years)
      • Specific age-appropriate activities and lessons for each group
    • Home-based/Group-based combination model (same specifications as above)
  • Parents complete two inventories at the beginning and end of the program:
    • The Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2) is a norm referenced inventory designed to assess parenting beliefs in five parenting practices recognized as contributing to child maltreatment:
      • Inappropriate developmental expectations of children
      • Lack of parental empathy towards children’s needs
      • Strong parental belief in the use of physical punishment
      • Reversing parent-child family roles
      • Oppressing children’s power and independence.
    • The Nurturing Skills Competency Scale (NSCS) is a criterion reference inventory designed to gather information in six areas:
      • Current parental life conditions
      • Childhood history
      • Relationship with partner
      • Relationship with children
      • Knowledge of nurturing parenting practices
      • Utilization of nurturing parenting skills
  • Parents and facilitator meet to review the results of the assessments:
    • Parenting strengths and deficiencies are discussed.
    • Lessons in the program are reviewed to ensure parenting deficiencies are being covered.
  • Lessons are competency-based:
    • Each lesson has measurable competencies.
    • Parents and facilitator review the competencies at the beginning of the session.
    • Parents and facilitator rate how well competencies were learned.
    • Unlearned competencies are presented again the following session.
  • Process evaluation: Family Nurturing Journal and Family Nurturing Plan
    • The Family Nurturing Journal and Family Nurturing Plan are process evaluation forms to ensure competencies are being learned.
    • Parents receive the Family Nurturing Journal with a listing of the lessons and lesson competencies.
    • Facilitators create a Family Nurturing Plan to monitor the completion of the lessons and the acquisition of the lesson competencies.
    • Parents and facilitators rate the degree the competencies were learned.
    • Unlearned competencies are presented in the following session It may take two or more sessions to learn the competencies of a lesson.
    • Program is complete when lesson competencies have been learned.
  • The parent portion of the program includes 55 lessons:
    • Based on the needs of the parents, home visits can range from 12 to 55 sessions.
    • Dosage of lessons is broken down by level of prevention for all three models. As an example, the dosage for the group format is described below:
      • Parents court-ordered to attend parenting education groups due to child maltreatment concerns receive all 27 group sessions covering all 55 lessons.
      • Parents recommended for parenting education but not court-ordered to attend receive 16 sessions which will cover lessons decided by the parent educator and parent based on pre-program assessment data.
      • Parents attending to enhance their parenting skills receive a prevention dosage of 5 to 9 sessions which represent the core lessons of the program.
    • Parent portion lessons include:
      • Children’s Brain Development
      • Nurturing as a Lifestyle
      • Parent-Child Bonding and Attachment
      • Ages and Stages of Development
      • The Male and Female Brain
      • Developing Empathy in Children
      • Meeting our Needs and the Needs of our Children
      • Recognizing and Understanding Feelings
      • Helping Your Children Handle their Feelings
      • Spoiling Your Children
      • Improving Your Children’s Self Worth
      • Developing Personal Power in Children and Adults
      • Understanding Discipline
      • Red, White and Bruises: Why Parents Spank
      • Developing Family Morals and Values
      • Developing Family Rules
      • Rewarding Children and their Behavior
      • Punishments for Inappropriate Behavior
      • Praise for Being and Doing
      • Infant and Child Massage
      • Child Proofing your Home
      • Verbal and Physical Redirection
      • Establishing Nurturing Parenting Routines
      • Our Bodies and Sex
      • Personal Space and Saying “No”
      • Keeping our Children safe
      • Managing Anger
      • Alternatives to Spanking
      • Ignoring Inappropriate Behavior
      • Possessive and Violent Relationships
      • Families and Alcohol
      • Keeping Kids Drug Free
      • Criticism and Confrontation
      • Problem Solving, Decision Making, Negotiation and Compromise
      • People, Possessions and Self-Talk
      • Smoking and My Child’s Health
      • Toilet Training
      • Love, Sex, STDs and AIDS
  • Activities and Lessons that comprise the Nurturing Program for Children:
    • Infants are engaged in age-appropriate activities designed to enhance healthy brain development such as include sensory-motor activities, massage, and infant stimulation activities.
    • Toddlers and preschoolers attend activities together when appropriate.
    • Art and circle time activities are modified to a toddler’s level.
    • Child portion activities and lessons include:
      • Making Classroom Rules
      • Picture Myself and My Family
      • Getting to Know You
      • Me Mobile
      • Age-Appropriate Games: Duck, Duck Goose; Red Light-Green Light, etc.
      • Circle Time: Learning to use “I Messages” to Communicate Feelings
      • Art Activity: Making a Silhouette of Me
      • Art Activity: Creating Clay Sculptures
      • I’m Someone Special Discussion and Art Activity
      • Using Leisure Time to choose dress-up, drawing, blocks and construction or stories
      • Tall and Small Big Motor Activity
      • Art Activity: Tear and Paste
      • Nurturing Board Game
      • Nurturing Coloring Books
      • Circle Time: Using My Personal Power
      • Art Activity: Making personal Power Vests
      • Puppet Power: Using My Personal Power in a Positive Way
      • Circle Time: Praise and Criticism
      • Art Activity: Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies
      • Puppet Power: Praise and Criticism
      • Circle Time: Strength Bombardment
      • Circle Time: Gentle and Hurting Touch
      • Art Activity: Putting Our best Foot Forward Foot Mural
      • Puppet Power: Touching, Talking and Using Our Personal Power
      • Dancercise
      • Art Activity: Giant Self-Drawing
      • Hello Time: Remember My Name
      • Circle Time: Morals and Values: Doing the Right and Wrong Thing
      • Circle Time: Choices and Consequences
      • Puppet Power: Choices and Consequences
      • Art Activity: Shaving Cream
      • Art Activity: Making a Group Hand Mural
      • Art Activity: Finger Painting
      • Circle Time: Saying No
      • Circle Time: Keeping Secrets
      • Circle Time: Staying Safe
      • Circle Time: Telling Others
      • Puppet Power: Don’t Keep it to Yourself
      • Puppet Power: Expressing our Anger
      • Circle Time: How to Express our Anger Energy
      • Art Activity: Anger Masks
      • Circle Time: Saying No to Drugs and Yes to Life
      • Circle Time: Saying Goodbye to our Friends

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Oppressed affect, low self-worth, lack of empowerment, bully-like or victim-like behaviors, overly clingy or withdrawn behavior, separation anxieties, attachment disorders, low empathy, difficulty managing and appropriately expressing their feelings

Parent/Caregiver Services

Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Attachment issues between parent and child, abusive disciplinary practices, neglecting children’s basic needs, lack of supervision, oppressing children’s power and independence
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Grandparents and other extended family members can participate in the home-based sessions.

Recommended Intensity:

Home-based: 90-minute weekly sessions, Group-based: 2.5-hour weekly sessions with a 20-minute family fun time break, Combined program: One weekly 90-minute home session and one 2.5-hour weekly group session

Recommended Duration:

Home-based: 7 to 55 weeks (a minimum of 7 home visits), Group-based: 16 to 27 weeks (a minimum of 16 group sessions), Combined program: 16 group-based sessions and a minimum of 7 home-based sessions

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Community Agency
  • Foster/Kinship Care
  • Residential Care Facility


Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers includes a homework component:

Session based home practice assignments typically focused on specific parent-child bonding and attachment activities.


Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers has materials available in languages other than English:

Arabic, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Spanish

For information on which materials are available in these languages, 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:

Home Visitation model requires one home visitor to conduct the lesson. Group models require co-facilitators for the parent’s program and co-facilitators for the children’s program for a total of 4 facilitators. Additional staff may be required if more than 2 babies are attending the sessions. Program comes with 20 A/V parenting lessons for adults on 2 DVDs. Group-based program requires a room big enough to seat 12-15 adults comfortably and a room for the children’s session, big enough for approximately 12-30 children.

Education and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

There is no minimum educational level requirement to be trained in the program. Home-based program model requires staff experienced in conducting home-based instruction. Group-based program requires staff skillful in conducting adult groups and staff skillful in conducting children’s groups. Staff must be knowledgeable of developmental capabilities of children birth to 5 years, have attended the Nurturing Program facilitator training, and be regularly supervised by agency administrative staff.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

On site if desired or regional area trainings

Number of days/hours:

Three days, 7 hours daily

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program has been reviewed and it was determined that this program lacks the type of published, peer-reviewed research that meets the CEBC criteria for a scientific rating of 1 – 5. Therefore, the program has been given the classification of "NR - Not able to be Rated." It was reviewed because it was identified by the topic expert as a program being used in the field, or it is being marketed and/or used in California with children receiving services from child welfare or related systems and their parents/caregivers. Some programs that are not rated may have published, peer-reviewed research that does not meet the above stated criteria or may have eligible studies that have not yet been published in the peer-reviewed literature. For more information on the "NR - Not able to be Rated" classification, please see the Scientific Rating Scale.

Cowen, P. S. (2001). Effectiveness of a parent education intervention for at-risk families. Journal of the Society of Pediatric Nursing, 6(2), 73-82.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 154 families


  • Age — Not specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — 92% White
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were self-referred families, families in crisis, and families court-referred for mandatory attendance.

Location/Institution: National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, Iowa Chapter

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined parents attending the Nurturing Parenting Program (now called Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers). Measures included the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory, which is designed to measure attitudes about childrearing practices. Posttest scores showed statistically significant improvements in inappropriate expectations, low empathy, strong belief in value of punishment, and role reversal. Limitations of the study included the lack of a control group and the fact that a substantial percentage of available families did not fully participate or provided incomplete data.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Devall, E. L. (2004). Positive parenting for high-risk families. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 96(4), 22-28.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 323 parents


  • Age — 14-70 years, Median=27 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 60% Hispanic, 21% European American, 10% Native American, 4% African American, and 3% Asian American or other
  • Gender — 40% Male
  • Status — Participants were at-risk families, including teen parents, unmarried parents, single or divorce parents, foster parents, parents referred by social services, families with substance abuse issues, and incarcerated parents.

Location/Institution: New Mexico

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The Nurturing Parenting Program (now called Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers) was offered in schools, community centers, public health offices, family resource centers, and in prisons for incarcerated parents. Measures included the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory, the Nurturing Quiz, and the Family Social History Questionnaire. Posttest results showed improvement on inappropriate expectations, empathy, belief in corporal punishment and role-reversal. Scores on the Nurturing Quiz also improved significantly. Limitations include the lack of a control group and low rates of completion for the entire curriculum.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Montañez, M., Devall, E., & VanLeeuwen, D. (2010). Social capital: Strengthening Mexican-American families through parenting education. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, 102(3), 27-33.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 102


  • Age — Not Specified
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% Mexican American
  • Gender — 93% Female and 7% Male
  • Status — Participants were Mexican American parents of preschool-aged children.

Location/Institution: Southwest United States

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Nurturing Parenting Program curriculum for adult parents with children birth to five years (now called Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers) for Mexican-American families. The program was delivered in once a week, twice a week, and daily formats, and was available in English and Spanish versions. Measures utilized include the Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory-2 (AAPI-2), the Nurturing Quiz (NQ), and the Family Social History Questionnaire (FSHQ). Results indicate that parents who completed the program demonstrated greater knowledge of positive discipline techniques, an increase in parental empathy, and a decreased belief and value in corporal punishment. Limitations include the lack of a control group and the small sample size due to the number of delivery options offered.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Maher, E. J., Marcynyszyn, L. A., Corwin, T. W., & Hodnett, R. (2011). Dosage matters: The relationship between participation in the Nurturing Parenting Program for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers and subsequent child maltreatment. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1426-1434.

Type of Study: One group pretest-posttest study
Number of Participants: 528


  • Age — 12-60 years, Mean=27 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 58% White
  • Gender — 74% Female
  • Status — Participants were families with children under six with child abuse and/or neglect allegations at ten family resource centers.

Location/Institution: Louisiana

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This article uses statewide data on caregivers of young children referred to the Nurturing Parenting Program (now called Nurturing Parenting Program for Parents and their Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers) for allegations of abuse and neglect to examine the relationship between program dosage and subsequent maltreatment. Measures utilized include Nurturing Parenting Program attendance data; the state child welfare Tracking and Information Payment System (TIPS), and Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory-2 (AAPI-2) pre- and posttest surveys. Results showed that, at six months after participating in the program, caregivers who attended more sessions were significantly less likely to be reported for child maltreatment, holding other factors constant. At two years after participating, caregivers attending more sessions were significantly less likely to have a substantiated maltreatment incidence, controlling for other characteristics of families associated with maltreatment. Limitations include the lack of randomized control group and the resulting inability to definitively make causal attributions to Nurturing Parenting Program participation because of other unmeasured factors that could be associated with program attendance and concerns about generalizability to other states or the national population.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6 months and 2 years.

Additional References

Bavolek, S. J., (n.d.). Assessment, evaluation and research: Examining parenting history, beliefs, knowledge and skills. Retrieved from

Bavolek, S. J., (2014). Nurturing Parenting Programs facilitator training workbook and program implementation guide. Retrieved from

Bavolek, S. J., & Dellinger-Bavolek, J. (2009). Parents & Their Infants, Toddlers, & Preschoolers - Facilitator's instructional manual w/forms CD for teaching parents – Group. Retrieved from

Contact Information

Robert Schramm
Agency/Affiliation: Family Development Resources, Inc.
Phone: (800) 688-5822
Fax: (435) 649-9599

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: December 2015

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: July 2017

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2014