Parenting Young Children (PYC)

About This Program

Target Population: Parents with learning difficulties who are the main caregivers of a child aged six months through six years old

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 6

Program Overview

Parenting Young Children (PYC) is a comprehensive, home–based parent training and support program for parents with learning difficulties and their young children. PYC was developed in 2003, has been evaluated and widely disseminated across Australia as a part of the Australian national strategy "Healthy Start". Healthy Start is a national capacity building strategy which aims to improve health and well-being outcomes for children whose parents have learning difficulties (

Practitioners use a four-section manual to guide their practice:

  • Developing the Intervention
    • Clarifying roles
    • Setting goals with parents
    • Developing the intervention (selecting a module, designing content, developing teaching materials)
  • Teaching Strategies
    • General principles for teaching
    • Knowledge and practice skills
    • Teaching strategies
  • Core Content Areas (Two intervention modules)
    • Module 1 – Child Care Skills assists parents to develop skills around toilet training, food preparation, nutrition, bathing, sleeping, and health care (based on Maurice Feldman's Parent Education Program)
    • Module 2 – Parent' Child Interactions teaches parents to provide stimulating play activities for their child, and how to use praise, modeling, and other parent-child interaction skills (based on Sheila Eyberg's Parent-Child Interaction Therapy)
  • Putting It All Together
    • Practitioner skills
    • Program adherence
    • Promoting generalization and maintenance of skills

Program Goals

The goals of Parenting Young Children (PYC) are to:

  • Facilitate the acquisition and maintenance of good child health and development.
  • Improve and maintain the quality and safety of the home environment.
  • Improve the quality of the parent-child relationship by increasing parental warmth and positive attention towards the child.
  • Increase children's understanding and use of language.

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Parenting Young Children (PYC).

Essential Components

The essential components of Parenting Young Children (PYC) include:

  • Uses principles of family-centered practice and adult learning theory:
    • Where possible and relevant, both parents or other adult household members are involved in the intervention (using the naturally available supports and resources of the family).
    • The program is designed for families where the children are living in the home, to enable opportunities for parents to practice skills in vivo.
    • Practitioners work with parents to identify one or more parent-directed goals to work towards.
    • Intervention is individually tailored to meet parent-directed goals and the learning style and pace of each individual parent.
    • Practitioners initially spend time clarifying the roles of both the parent(s) and practitioner, to emphasize the active role that parents will play in the intervention (e.g., setting relevant goals, practicing skills in sessions, and completing between-session tasks).
    • Practitioners regularly review their own skills in delivering the program through the use of strategies such as completion of adherence checklists, goal setting, observation of their own skills in sessions, peer supervision, and coaching.
  • Intervention content:
    • Practitioners use materials provided in the program manual, or materials developed based on instructions in that manual and discussed during training, including pictorial prompts, checklists of parenting skills, examples or scenarios, adherence checklists, and teaching guidelines for specific skills.
    • Practitioners identify relevant skills to teach from one or both content modules of the program.
    • Parents are permitted choice and flexibility in the order in which skills are introduced.
    • Intervention is based on family strengths, building on what parents can already do, and using available resources to teach new skills.
    • Teaching sessions occur at least once every two weeks, ideally weekly, and are of a length suitable to the skills being taught and the learning pace and style of the parent. Sessions typically last 1 to 2 hours, although active skills teaching may occur for only a small portion of this session time (review of the week or discussion of other matters may also occur during sessions).
    • The duration of intervention is flexible, depending on the goals, skills, pace, and learning style of the parent, although generally a practitioner would remain involved with a parent for at least 6 months, in order to see meaningful, sustained change take place.
  • Teaching strategies:
    • Intervention is delivered where the skills are required to be used in the everyday life of the parent. For parenting skills, this typically means that teaching occurs in the parent's own home.
    • Practitioners use behavioral teaching strategies (including modeling, positive reinforcement, prompts, corrective feedback), which have support from research as being effective at teaching parents with learning difficulties new skills.
    • Complex skills are broken down into components for teaching (using task analysis).
    • Only two to three skills (or components of complex skills) are taught to a parent at any one time.
    • Skills are taught to a prespecified mastery criterion (e.g., 8 out of 10 trials correctly demonstrated by the parent without prompts).
    • Practitioners use a variety of materials to assist learning (e.g., pictorial prompts, videotape).
    • Practitioners routinely check for parent understanding and adjust teaching strategies as required.
    • Practitioners monitor parent progress through ongoing assessment using behavioral observation of parent skill development.
  • Fostering independence, maintenance, and generalization:
    • Practitioners gradually fade prompts in order to promote self-management and independence in the parent.
    • Practitioners work with parents to encourage the parent to identify what skills (or aspects of skills) they do well and what they may need to improve.
    • Practitioners actively plan for skill maintenance by regularly reviewing previously learned (mastered) skills and applying appropriate teaching strategies to strengthen these skills as required.
    • Practitioners actively plan for skill generalization by teaching skills in the setting in which they are typically required (most often the parent's own home) and by extending teaching to other locations as required (e.g., the supermarket, a relative's home).
    • Practitioners teach skills using multiple relevant examples or scenarios with parents.

Program Delivery

Parent/Caregiver Services

Parenting Young Children (PYC) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Has learning difficulties and parents a child
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Contextual fit is essential to Parenting Young Children. Practitioners identify skills to teach that reflect family goals and values, build on the families' strengths, use family resources and social supports, and can be embedded into the daily routines and activities of family life in ways that are acceptable and feasible to the family. Practitioners are encouraged to engage others who are relevant to the family in the program (e.g., other relatives), as agreed by the parent. Others can actively participate in sessions or may be engaged to reinforce parent learning in between sessions.

Recommended Intensity:

Weekly visits of approximately 90 minutes

Recommended Duration:

At least 6 months

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Adoptive Home
  • Birth Family Home
  • Foster / Kinship Care


Parenting Young Children (PYC) includes a homework component:

The program teaches skills that are currently relevant to the family. Parents are encouraged to use the skills they learn in between sessions, and a review of between session tasks occurs at the start of each session. Furthermore, the practitioner routinely checks for maintenance and generalization of each skill taught throughout the program.


Parenting Young Children (PYC) 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:

Practitioner works with family in the setting in which skills are required to be used, typically the parent’s own home.

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

There are no educational or experience restrictions on who can attend training, although the training is best suited to those who have the capacity to work in parent's own homes.

Manual Information

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

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

The Parenting Research Centre (Australia) offers consultation, training, coaching, and implementation support to agencies interested in incorporating this program into their service delivery.

Number of days/hours:

Practitioners must attend a 2-day training course in delivery of Parenting Young Children. Time required for additional support to implement the program will be decided throughout consultation process.

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

The following studies were not included in rating PYC on the Scientific Rating Scale...

Mildon, R., Wade, C., & Matthews, J. (2008). Considering the contextual fit of an intervention for families headed by parents with an intellectual disability: An exploratory study. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 21(4), 377–387.

The purpose of the study was to report on the results of an exploratory trial of Parenting Young Children, an intensive home-based parenting program for parents with an intellectual disability. Participants were assigned to the Parenting Young Children intervention group. Measures utilized include Parenting Daily Hassles Scale (PDHS), Parenting Sense of Competence scale (PSOC), the Eyberg Child Behaviour Inventory (ECBI), and the Home Observation for the Measurement of the Environment Inventory (HOME). Results indicate that parents reported reductions in the frequency and intensity of potentially hassling events and reported more satisfaction and confidence with their role as a parent. Parents also reported a reduction in the frequency of child disruptive behavior and a decrease in the number of disruptive behaviors that parents viewed as being a problem. Improvements were observed in the quality of the home environment for all families. Limitations include nonrandomization of subjects, lack of a control group, and the small sample size. Note: This article was not used in the rating process due to the lack of a control group.

Additional References

Mildon, R., Matthews, J., & Wade, C. (2004). Development and implementation of parenting supports for parents with a disability (Report). Melbourne: Victorian Parenting Centre.

Wade, C., Llewellyn, G., & Matthews, J. (2008). Review of parent training interventions for parents with intellectual disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 21, 351-366.

Contact Information

Catherine Wade, PhD
Phone: +61 3 8660 3500

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2024

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: April 2021

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2014