Evidence and evaluation: What is the evidence base for Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities?

Can Parent Quality Mark Contact Leandra Box

There is a great deal of evidence on the efficacy of the SFSC programme, from research reports based on pre- and post-test measures, to qualitative studies involving video.

SFSC has received the CANparent Quality Mark.

How do we measure impact?

A significant number of the written studies are based on data collected from each programme. This includes:

  • demographic data on all parents
  • pre- and post-test questionnaire responses
  • facilitator reports reviewing programmes.

In addition, studies have been produced using other measures including a number of standardised measures such as the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

What is the impact of SFSC?

View this information as an infographic

Studies using data gathered from pre- and post-test questionnaires completed by parents have reported statistically significant change in:

  • parents’ self-esteem;
  • parents’ confidence in their parenting;
  • family relationships;
  • relationships with children;
  • child’s self-esteem
  • their child’s ability to control their own behaviour.

We have commissioned a number of reports to summarise this information (Wilding & Mark, 2007; Wilding & Mark, 2009; Karlsen, 2013; Karlsen, 2013).

Farber and Maharaj (2005) report ‘statistically significant and practically meaningful trends’ on the use of this programme with 39 parents of ‘high-risk families of children with disabilities’.

Other published studies have used scientifically validated tests to report on these and other outcomes. Matthew (2005) used the Family Environment Scale (Moos and Moos, 1994) to explore family attachment, cohesion, resilience and conflict and drew data from 1080 parents (699 of whom had completed our programme) and concluded our programme was most successful (of the four model programmes) in promoting family resilience and dealing with family conflict. Lindsay et al. (2008), using a range of validated tests, reported improvements in parents’ mental well-being and parenting efficacy as part of a comparative study of three model programmes delivered in the UK.

SFSC has also been assessed by agencies and public bodies including:

  • National Academy for Parenting Practitioners- SFSC was one of the first programmes assessed for NAPP’s commissioning toolkit and achieved level 4 (the highest grade) for three of the four elements
  • Children’s Workforce Development Council- SFSC forms part of CWDC’s national training programme.

Further information on the outcomes of the programme for parents is available by downloading individual more detailed evaluation reports.

Future evaluation plans

The Race Equality Foundation continues to invest in expanding the evidence base of the SFSC programme. This means that we are looking at new ways to demonstrate the efficacy of the programme and the range of ways the programme impacts on children, parents, families and communities. In the next 12 months we will be:

  • launching a new study which involves an exploration of data over a number of years through the use of summary measures
  • commissioning a social cost on investment study looking at the cost benefits of the SFSC model
  • looking at better ways to ensure that evaluations include the voices of children and young people in assessing the impact of SFSC.

In addition, we expect the imminent publication of the latest Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinders report by CEDAR which should contain comparisons with a number of other parenting programmes.