ParentChild+

About This Program

Target Population: Families with two and three-year-olds who face multiple obstacles to educational and economic success. These barriers include living in poverty, single or teen-age parents, limited parental education, illiteracy/limited literacy, homelessness, having a home language other than English and/or immigrant or refugee status

For children/adolescents ages: 1 – 4

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 1 – 4

Program Overview

ParentChild+, an early childhood program, is designed to promote parent-child interaction and positive parenting to enhance children’s cognitive and social-emotional development. The program focuses on supporting families and enabling them to prepare their children for academic success through intensive home visiting. Twice weekly home visits are designed to strengthen parent-child interaction, the conversation, reading, and play that are critical to early childhood development. Each week, early learning specialists (ELS; i.e., home visitors) bring a new book or educational toy that remains with the families permanently. Using the book or toy, the ELSs model for parents and children together reading, conversation, and play activities that are designed to stimulate quality interaction, support age-appropriate developmental expectations, and enhance language and learning at home.

Program Goals

The goals of ParentChild+ are:

  • Increase the amount of positive parent-child interaction
  • Understand the importance of their child’s healthy social-emotional development
  • Understand the importance of preliteracy skills essential for school readiness
  • Create and maintain a positive learning environment
  • Help their child build school readiness skills
  • Increase quality and quantity of parent-child verbal interaction
  • Increase prosocial behavior in their child
  • Learn skills that will strengthen their family
  • Increase their child’s language and preliteracy skills
  • Increase successful and positive parenting

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for ParentChild+.

Essential Components

The essential components of ParentChild+ include:

  • Program Services:
    • Provide families with two-and three-year-olds with regular, frequent home visits – twice a week for 46 weeks.
    • Provide families with two-and three-year-olds with books and toys.
    • Involve parents and their two-and three-year-olds in reading and play activities.
    • Link families to community services and resources.
  • Four major components define the ParentChild+ curriculum. The curriculum is conveyed by the Early Learning Specialist (ELS) to the parents/primary caregivers during the home visits.
    • Verbal Interaction Techniques:
      • Focuses on nurturing the child’s intellectual growth through conversation with the parents/primary caregiver.
      • Promotes parent-child verbal interaction around the books and toys.
      • Utilizes a guide sheet that accompanies each book and toy to make the verbal interaction techniques are made more tangible for the ELS and participants:
        • Contains one-two page summary of the intellectually stimulating components of the program’s hidden curriculum, which is modeled by the ELS – not directly taught to the parents.
        • Contains reading, conversation, and/or play activities.
        • Accompanies the corresponding book or toy when it is given to the program participant by the ELS.
    • Positive Parenting Behavior:
      • Focuses on twenty items of positive parenting behavior modeled by the ELS throughout the two 23-week home cycles including:
        • Responding verbally to the child’s verbal or nonverbal requests for attention
        • Verbalizing affection toward the child
        • Verbalizing child expectations in a clear manner
    • Social Emotional Development:
      • Focuses on helping children develop their social relationships as they pertain to:
        • Their inner selves
        • The world of work, play, and ideas
        • Utilizes the practice of positive parenting to foster children’s social emotional competence.
    • Curriculum Materials (Books and Toys):
      • Twelve books and eleven toys distributed to the families
      • High quality:
        • Sturdy
        • Attractive
        • Cognitively stimulating at a variety of levels
      • Given to family to keep
      • Provide a focus for both the child and parent by sparking ongoing verbal interaction.
  • Early Learning Specialists (Home Visitors):
    • Primarily paid paraprofessionals
    • A cultural, linguistic, and community match with families participating in the program
    • Possibly former program parent-participants
    • Required initial 16-hour training workshop
    • Required weekly ELSs supervisory meetings run by the local site Coordinator
    • Trained not to be social workers or teachers, but to focus on modeling for parents how to embed the curriculum in their home environment while playing, reading, and talking with their children
    • Learn the verbal interaction techniques for each new book or toy by role-playing and reviewing the guide sheets in the training and weekly staff meetings
    • Support and counsel available for the issues they encounter in home visits that they note in their weekly home session records
  • Supervision (Coordinators):
    • Responsible for the effective implementation of the ParentChild+ replication site
    • Typically a professional in a field closely aligned with the program, such as:
      • Early childhood or parenting education
      • Nursing
      • Psychology
      • Social work
    • Must be knowledgeable and caring about interpersonal behavior, values, reflective supervision, and the perspectives and values of the families with whom they are working
    • Pulls together the key elements of the Program – ELSs, families, curriculum/curricular materials– to form a smoothly working and effective whole

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

ParentChild+ directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • Family living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, having a single or teen-age parent, limited parental education, and/or parental illiteracy/limited literacy, and families with a home language other than English and/or who are immigrants or refugees

Parent/Caregiver Services

ParentChild+ directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Lack of quality verbal and non-verbal interaction between parent and child, lack of developmentally appropriate parental expectations, and lack of parental involvement

Recommended Intensity:

Twice a week for 30 minutes each visit

Recommended Duration:

Two 23-week cycles (can be delivered over two “school” year schedules or continuously). The model requires that at least 92 visits are offered to the family.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home

Homework

This program does not include a homework component.

Languages

ParentChild+ has materials available in a language other than English:

Spanish

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:

  • Site Coordinator (professional staff person who is trained to oversee the replication site, must have one Coordinator per 50-60 families)
  • Early Learning Specialists (paraprofessional staff who are trained to do home visits, a full-time ELS can visit 12-15 families)
  • Replication agreement with the national office
  • New books and toys for each family (12 books and 11 toys per family for each 23 week program cycle)

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Program Coordinators are responsible for the effective implementation of the replication site. The Coordinator is typically a professional in a field closely aligned with the program, such as, early childhood or parenting education, nursing, psychology or social work. The Coordinator must be knowledgeable and caring about interpersonal behavior, reflective supervision, and the values, perspectives, and attitudes of the families with whom they are working.

Early Learning Specialists (ELSs) are primarily paid "paraprofessionals". They must be a cultural, linguistic, and community match with the families in the program, and many are former program parent-participants. All ELSs are trained in an initial minimum sixteen-hour training workshop and through weekly ELSs supervisory meetings throughout the year. They are trained not to be social workers or teachers, but to focus on modeling for parents how to utilize the curriculum while playing, reading, and talking with their children. In the weekly meetings led by the site Coordinator, they work on the Verbal Interaction Techniques for each new book or toy, by role-playing and reviewing the Guide Sheets. They also get and give support and counsel on issues they encounter during home visits, which are noted in their weekly home session records.

Manual Information

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

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
  • Michele Morrison, Training and Program Support Director
    phone: (516) 883-7480
Training Type/Location:

Training institutes are held at the national center several times a year; regional trainings are offered as needed; online supplemental and follow-up training is available throughout the year.

Number of days/hours:

4 days, 7-8 hours/day (the first three days are provided before the agency begins to replicate the program; the fourth day is provided 3-6 months after an agency begins to replicate the model, and is always offered in conjunction with the annual national conference in May). Continuous learning is provided online through ParentChild+ learning platform.

Implementation Information

Pre-Implementation Materials

There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for ParentChild+ as listed below:

  • Site Start-up Packet
  • Replication agreement
  • Proposed plan document to be completed by local partner agency
  • Administrative forms

Formal Support for Implementation

There is formal support available for implementation of ParentChild+ as listed below:

Formal implementation support is provided by the National Center’s Training and Program Support department and by State Program Directors; Support for data collection and management is provided by the Research and Evaluation department; and support with public and private fund development and sustainability planning is provided by the State Program Directors and the National Center Development department.

Fidelity Measures

There are fidelity measures for ParentChild+ as listed below:

The methods of assessing fidelity include regular review of site data entered into DAISY (ParentChild+’s online management information system, which includes demographic, implementation, and assessment data); regular site visits/telephone check-ins by state directors and/or national staff; and a regular comprehensive site certification process, which includes site visits and reviews (including structured observation, home visit video coding, semi-structured interviews and data analysis), a self-report checklist describing implementation of the key elements of program, and feedback collected from multiple stakeholders.

Implementation Guides or Manuals

There are implementation guides or manuals for ParentChild+ as listed below:

The program provides a complete set of implementation guides for the program – including an administrative implementation manual, a site coordinator manual, an ELS manual, a guide to the training videos, and a guide to using the management information systems.

Research on How to Implement the Program

The program representative did not provide information about research conducted on how to implement ParentChild+.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Madden, J., O’Hara, J., & Levenstein, P. (1984). Home again: Effects of the Mother Child Home Program on mother and child. Child Development, 55,(2), 636-647. https://doi.org/10.2307/1129975

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 166

Population:

  • Age — 21-33 months
  • Race/Ethnicity — 88% African American
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were referred by public and private agencies, individuals and identified from school census lists for risk factors.

Location/Institution: New York City

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study attempted to establish the effectiveness of Mother-Child Home Program (MHCP) [now called ParentChild+]. Families were randomly assigned to the control group or to a comparison group. Three cohorts were compared to no-treatment controls, while the fourth was compared to a condition where materials were supplied but not home visits. Measures utilized include the Cattell Developmental and Intelligence Scale, Child Behavior Traits Measure, the Stanford Binet Intelligence Test, the Reading and Arithmetic Scales of the Wide Range Achievement Test, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and the Maternal Interactive Behavior Record. Results indicate that short-term MCHP effects included higher levels of desirable behaviors in maternal interactions and, in one cohort, higher scores on the Stanford Binet test and the program-developed achievement test. There was no effect on IQ when the materials-only group was compared to the MCHP group. There were no effects in any cohort at 3-year follow-up, although IQ levels were near national norms in all groups. Limitations include no significant differences were found between the control group and the comparison group, limited generalizability due to ethnicity, and the increased availability of preschool groups may have diluted program effects.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 years.

Scarr, S., & McCartney, K. (1988). Far from home: An experimental evaluation of the Mother-Child Home Program in Bermuda. Child Development, 59(3), 531-543. https://doi.org/10.2307/1130555

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 125 families

Population:

  • Age — 2 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% Bermudian
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were volunteers recruited through birth records and advertising.

Location/Institution: Bermuda

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of the Mother-Child Home Program (MCHP) [now called ParentChild+]. Two-thirds of the 125 families with 24-month-olds in Bermuda were randomly assigned to the MCHP and one-third to the control group. Measures utilized include the Stanford Binet Test of Intelligence, the Bayley Scale of Mental Development, the Infant Behavior Record, and the Cain-Levine Social Competency Scale. Results indicate that only two child outcomes were significant at the follow-up, MCHP children performed better at a designated sorting task and were rating higher on communication skills by their mothers. Limitations include children possibility being familiar with the intervention.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 years.

Levenstein, P., Levenstein, S., Shiminski, J. A., & Stolzberg, J. E. (1998). Long-term impact of a verbal interaction program for at-risk toddlers: An exploratory study of high school outcomes in a replication of the Mother-Child Home Program. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 19(2), 267-285. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(99)80040-9

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 123 young adults

Population:

  • Age — 17-24 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were families of students attending Title One schools.

Location/Institution: Pittsfield, MA

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of the Mother-Child Home Program (MCHP) [now called ParentChild+]. Young adults who had been in five yearly cohorts of at-risk toddlers eligible for a replication of the MCHP, were studied 16 to 20 years later for their high school performance. Measures utilized include the Child’s Behavior Traits, Parent and Child Together, and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT). Results indicate subjects who had completed the Pittsfield Parent-Child Home Program, a MCHP program replication, as toddlers were significantly less likely than randomized controls to drop out of school and more likely to have graduated. On an intention-to-treat basis, 76.9% of all subjects who enrolled in the program and 53.9% of controls graduated from high school. The dropout rate of program enrollees was lower than the mean for all Pittsfield students, while program completers matched the national graduation rate for middle-income students. Limitations include high attrition rate, the small number of controls, the failure of many differences to reach statistical significance, and the dearth of demographic and pre-graduation scholastic data on the study subjects.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 16-20 years.

Levenstein, P., Levenstein, S., & Oliver, D. (2002). First grade school readiness of former child participants in a South Carolina replication of the Parent-Child Home Program. Applied Developmental Psychology, 23(3), 331-353. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0193-3973(02)00112-0

Type of Study: Posttest only - comparison to population data
Number of Participants: 84

Population:

  • Age — 1st Grade (approximately 5-6 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — 89.3% African American and 10.7% European American
  • Gender — 45 Male and 39 Female
  • Status — Participants were referred to program for risk factors.

Location/Institution: South Carolina

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study examined the effectiveness of The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) [now called ParentChild+] by utilizing their school readiness test scores in first grade. This study compares first grade school readiness of children who received PCHP to scores for children in the state as a whole. Children had been referred into the program by social welfare workers or teachers of older siblings based on high risk factors including school learning problems in siblings, failure of parents to attend conferences, or physically visible deprivation. School readiness was based on scores on the Cognitive Skills Assessment Battery (CSAB), administered to all first graders in South Carolina. This test measures levels of 12 objectives, including fine and gross motor skills, memory, communications skills, and comparison and classification skills. Comparison of passing rates was done for both the PCHP group as a whole and with a subgroup of children who had been referred for severe developmental delays (SDD) removed. Among children eligible for free lunches, a significantly higher percentage of the non-SDD PCHP group passed the CSAB than did children statewide. A higher percentage of African American children in the non-SDD PCHP also passed compared to those not receiving the program. Limitations include nonrandomization of participants, limited generalizability due to ethnicity of participants being predominately African-American, and small sample size.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 3 years.

Allen, L., Sethi, A., & Astuto, J. (2007). An evaluation of graduates of a toddlerhood home visiting program at kindergarten age. NHSA Dialog, 10(1), 36-57. https://doi.org/10.1080/15240750701301811

Type of Study: Nonrandomized comparison group
Number of Participants: 116

Population:

  • Age — Kindergarten (approximately 4-6 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Intervention: 4.8% Caucasian, 9.5 % African American, 71.4% Latino, and 14.3 % Other; Comparison Group: 26.5% Caucasian, 28.6% African American, 32.7% Latino, and 12.2% Other
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants resided in areas that are increasingly diverse and low-income.

Location/Institution: Nassau and Suffolk Counties, New York

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study evaluated whether graduates of The Parent Child Home Program (PCHP) [now called ParentChild+] were performing similarly to their community peers. They were compared to children who had not participated in PCHP as a toddler but were in the same Kindergarten classrooms. Measures include the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), the Test of Early Reading Ability (TERA), the Academic Rating Scale, the Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES), the Kochanska Inhibitory Control Battery, the Social Skills Rating Scale, and the Family Involvement Questionnaire, with supplemental questions regarding parental support for children’s learning. Results indicate that although the PCHP children went into the program at much higher risk of being unprepared for school, when assessed in kindergarten they showed no differences from the comparison group on social emotional skills or early literacy skills. However, some differences were noted on two standardized tests of verbal and literacy skill, which may be accounted for by the higher number of Latino children in the intervention group. Parents in the intervention group did not differ from the comparison group on likelihood to meet with teachers. However, they were less likely to volunteer at school and to provide home-based activities for children’s learning. Limitations include nonrandomization of participant and small sample size.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2-3 years.

Gfellner, B. M., McLaren, L., & Metcalfe, A. (2008). The Parent-Child Home Program in Western Manitoba: A 20-year evaluation. Child Welfare, 87(5), 49-67. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19402359/

Type of Study: One-group pretest-posttest design
Number of Participants: 185

Population:

  • Age — 18-43 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 58% Caucasian, 33% Aboriginal, 1% Asian, and 8% Not specified
  • Gender — 100% Females
  • Status — Participants were mothers recruited between 1984 and 2005 from community settings and child welfare.

Location/Institution: Western Manitoba, Canada

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study is an evaluation of The Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) [now called ParentChild+] of Western Manitoba. The objectives of this study were (a) to establish the profile of PCHP participants and (b) to assess performance outcomes over the course of the program by use of standardized test scores. Measures utilized include the Child Behavioral Traits (CBT) Scale, Parent-Child Together (PACT) Inventory, and the Home Session Behavior Scale. Results indicated progressive increases in the quality of the home environment in terms of both parent’s and child’s behavior, child behaviors conducive to learning, and the quality of parent-child interaction over the course of the program. Limitations include the nonrandomization of participants, lack of control group or comparison group, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Manz, P. H., Bracaliello, C. B., Pressimone, V. J., Eisenberg, R. A., Gernhart, A. C., Fu, Q., & Zuniga, C. (2016). Toddlers' expressive vocabulary outcomes after one year of Parent–Child Home Program services. Early Child Development and Care, 186(2), 229-248. https://doi.org/10.1080/03004430.2015.1025228

Type of Study: Nonrandomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 316

Population:

  • Age — Adults: Mean=29.24 years; Children: Mean=29.12 months (approximately 2.4 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Adults: Not specified; Children: 67% Latino, 27% African American, 2% Caucasian, and 4% Biracial
  • Gender — Adults: Not specified; Children: 60% Females
  • Status — Participants were children who were enrolled in the ParentChild+ program as well as comparison children from the same communities which were served by the program.

Location/Institution: Northwest region of the United States

Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
This study examined expressive vocabulary outcomes for Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) [now called ParentChild+] ethnic minority toddlers, after one year of home-visiting services. The objectives of this study were (a) to establish the profile of PCHP participants and (b) to assess performance outcomes over the course of the program by use of standardized test scores. Measures utilized include the child Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test – Revised (EOWPVT-R). Results indicated PCHP children showed moderately large improvements in their expressive vocabulary when compared to peers of similar age and socio-economic backgrounds. Limitations include the nonrandomization of participants, psychometric limitations of the EOWPVT-R, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Additional References

Allen, L., & Sethi, A. (2004). Bridging the gap between poor and privileged: How the Parent-Child Home Program uses books and toys to help poor toddlers succeed in kindergarten and beyond. America Educator, 28(2), 34-56. https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/summer-2004/bridging-gap-between-poor-and-privileged

Kamerman, S. B., & Kahn, A. J. (1995). Starting right. Oxford University Press.

McGonigel, M. (2005). Replication in Practice: Lessons from five lead agencies. Zero to Three, 25(5), 9-16. https://www.mothersmattercentre.ca/wp-content/articles/Replication.pdf

Contact Information

Cesar Zuniga, MA
Agency/Affiliation: ParentChild+, Inc.
Website: www.parentchildplus.org
Email:
Phone: (516) 883-7480
Fax: (516) 883-7481

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2020

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: January 2020

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: April 2008