Better access to evidence-based support for parents to change mental health outcomes for children and young people
Research has demonstrated that evidence-based parenting support is the most effective intervention when it comes to changing parenting practices and improving children’s emotional and behavioural concerns, especially in early childhood. These same interventions can help to address environmental risk for children, by encouraging parental behaviour that minimises likelihood of maltreatment, as an example.
Evidence-based parenting supports have been demonstrated to help across different cultures, and different contexts. Doyle et al. (2021) recommends a population level approach to availability of evidence-based supports for parents, with the aim of impacting on child and youth development and wellbeing. Specific attention is focused on evidence-based distinct from evidence-informed parenting supports, with the former described as empirically or scientifically evaluated as effective in significantly changing outcomes to benefit children and/or parents.
In relation to increasing the reach and access of evidence-based parenting supports, this paper describes that policy makers should:
(a) ensure funding for varied and non-stigmatising “soft-entry” points into different evidence-based parenting supports for parents/caregivers at the population-level – which includes universal services parents may already be engaged in;
(b) provide funding which ensures that parents/caregivers can access these programs;
(c) require that funding is transparent and promotes accountability when it comes to outcomes of these programs;
(d) fund research examining what programs work for whom, in what context, and in what combination.
University-based training can add guidelines which ensure systematic training in evidence-based parenting supports for undergraduates in a diverse range of professions. This will help ensure the availability of a professional workforce who can provide evidence-based parenting supports across Australia.
Doyle et. al. (2021). Policies are needed to increase the reach and impact of evidence-based parenting supports. Child Psychiatry & Human Development. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01309-0