02:34am Wednesday 23 August 2017

Parenting program benefits whole community, Irish report shows

A UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre evaluation of Triple P in Ireland reports that the widespread rollout of Triple P in two Irish communities led to population-wide health benefits.

The Atlantic Philanthropies-funded evaluation (link to report online at www.MAPP.ie ) of Triple P in the Irish Midlands was released in Athlone, Ireland, yesterday (11am, Monday, December 1, Dublin time).

It found that the numbers of children with “clinically elevated” social, emotional and behavioural problems reduced by 37.5 per cent after the Triple P roll-out.

Parents’ rates of depression decreased by 30 per cent.

Triple P Ireland director Conor Owens said the program led to significant improvements for parents and children who were directly involved, and families in the wider community were also shown to benefit.

“Participating parents have experienced significant lasting positive impacts for their families,’’ Mr Owens said.

“In addition to their personal success, they have contributed to a ripple effect for positive parenting in the community.

“They have started a conversation to spread sound evidence and proven tips for raising children.”

The Irish study looked at results from 1500 interviews in counties Longford and Westmeath, where free Triple P programs were provided to 4500 families from 2010 to 2013.

These results were compared to responses from about 1500 families in a county where Triple P was not introduced.

Triple P program founder and UQ Parenting and Family Support Centre director Professor Matt Sanders said the findings were remarkable.

He said the Irish Midlands project showed how community agencies could work together to deliver a comprehensive evidence-based system of parenting programs to entire communities for the benefit of all.

“This high-quality evaluation demonstrates the power of local partnerships developing a shared vision about supporting all parents in the task of raising children,” he said.

UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre associate director Dr John Canavan said it was important that large-scale interventions were properly assessed before wider implementation.

“It is vital that we are clear on what the benefits and challenges are when trying to change the outcomes for children and families,’’ Dr Canavan said.

“Research such as this is crucial to our understanding.’’

Dublin Mid-Leinster (Midlands) Health Services Executive Public Health director Dr Phil Jennings said those involved in the study had contributed to the well-being of children.

“This independent evaluation of the Triple P system of parenting support as a public health intervention has demonstrated huge benefits to children and families in Longford Westmeath,” he said.

More than 10,000 parents have now participated in Triple P programs in Ireland.

Media: Paddy Hintz,  +61 (0)431 706822, p.hintz@uq.edu.au.

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