The Parenting Young Children Project

The goal of the Parenting Young Children (PYC) Project is to increase participation in evidence-based parenting programs to help maximize the public health benefits of these programs.  PYC was originally funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (K01MH074045) to develop and pilot test strategies for increasing parenting program participation.  The first project focused on parents of kindergarten and 3rd grade children living in highly disadvantaged, Phoenix neighborhoods. Children living in these neighborhoods are often exposed to multiple adversities (e.g. community violence, poverty). As a result, many of these children are at risk for adjustment problems, beginning around school entry. Although several parenting skills programs provided in early childhood have been found to help promote school success and prevent child adjustment problems in high-risk families, parents often decline to enroll in parenting programs or drop out before program completion, severely limiting the benefits such programs can have for communities.

The first study conducted was a small pilot with 11 families to get feedback on ways to engage parents and to refine interview questions.  Following this pilot, a randomized controlled trial was conducted with 122 families to test the efficacy of the theory-based parent engagement package developed.  All participants were offered a free parenting program, the Triple P Positive Parenting Program, which was delivered at their child’s school. The study experimentally evaluated whether the engagement package produced higher enrollment, attendance, and parenting program involvement as compared to a brochure plus attention-control interview.

Findings from this efficacy trial showed that the engagement packet nearly doubled the rate of program initiation compared to the attention-control group (i.e., 48% vs. 25% attended at least one Triple P session).  Parents of children rated by teachers as exhibiting higher levels of concentration and conduct problems attended a greater number of sessions if they had been assigned to the experimental engagement condition, indicating that the engagement package increased participation for high-need families.  The engagement package also decreased the disparity in participation that has been observed in prior studies for highly acculturated, low-income Mexican Americans.

With funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA033352), we are now in the process of conducting an effectiveness trial (N = 1,350) of the engagement package using a dismantling design to identify the component(s) responsible for the effects, so we can make the engagement package as streamlined and effective as possible when delivered by schools.  Compared to an information-only condition, we expect families randomly assigned to the full engagement package will show higher attendance in an evidence-based parenting intervention, the Triple P Positive Parenting Program; which in turn, will lead to greater improvements in risk factors for substance abuse and mental health disorders (child conduct problems and parenting skill deficits) from pre- to post-test. Findings supporting this hypothesis would indicate that the motivationally-enhanced engagement methods could dramatically increase the public health impact of effective parenting interventions.

Investigator: Emily Winslow

Project Director: Krista Oswalt


NIDA Grant R01 DA033352. Effectiveness trial of methods for engaging parents into parenting interventions.

Principal Investigator: E. Winslow. 2013-2017

NIMH Grant K01 MH074045. Participation in preventive parenting interventions.

Principal Investigator: E. Winslow. 2006-2011.


  • Winslow, E. B., Poloskov, E., Begay, R., Tein, J-Y., Sandler, I., & Wolchik, S. (2016). A randomized trial of methods to engage Mexican American parents into a school-based parenting intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(12), 1094-1107. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000140. PMCID: 27599226.
  • Winslow, E. B., Braver, S., Cialdini, R., Sandler, I., Betkowski, J., Tein, J.-Y., Hita, L., Bapat, M., Wheeler, L., & Lopez, M. (2017). Video-based approach to engaging parents into a preventive parenting intervention for divorcing families: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Prevention Science, On-line advance publication. doi:10.1007/s11121-017-0791-3
  • Winslow, E., Bonds, D. B., Wolchik, S., Sandler, I., & Braver, S. (2009). Predictors of enrollment and retention in a preventive parenting intervention for divorced families. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 30(2), 151-172. DOI: 10.1007/s10935-009-0170-3. PMCID: PMC2682618


Krista Oswalt, Ph.D., PYC Project Director (

Emily Winslow, Ph.D., PYC Principal Investigator (