News about the research is spreading around the world but more families need to find out about Stepping Stones Triple P

At a time when educators, parents and policy advisors in Australia are grappling with how to deal with the emotional and behavioural needs of children with disabilities, Stepping Stones Triple P is demonstrating it can provide at least some of the answers.

The evidence is clear that rates of depression and anxiety are much higher for mothers of children with a developmental disability than those of typically developing children (Gray et al., 2011). We also know children with an intellectual disability are also more likely to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, such as anxiety disorder, depression, and conduct disorder (Emerson, 2003; Gadow, Guttmann-Steinmetz, Rieffe, & DeVincent, 2012).

So when a paper is published confirming that evidence-based programs can help these families, I think we should all be shouting it from the rooftops, so that families and policy makers hear the message loud and clear.

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‘We need to turn wishful thinking to help the lives of children into a public funding priority to support the skills of parents’

In a world where the well-being of children is a priority, preparing for parenting would become something people aspire to, not something associated with stigma, Professor Matt Sanders, founder of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program, told delegates at this year’s Helping Families Change Conference in The Netherlands.

In such a world, evidence-based parenting programs would become a policy priority for governments and be funded accordingly because parents had demanded that it be so.

“The single most important thing we as a community we can do to promote the well-being of children and reduce child maltreatment is to increase the skills, confidence and competence of parents at a whole-of-population level,’’ Professor Sanders said in his keynote address to the 17th annual HFCC at the historic Beurs Van Berlage building in the heart of Amsterdam.

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Bryan Samuels: Why removing a child from harm’s way should not simply mean ‘case closed’


IMG_5433 (10)The University of Chicago’s Bryan Samuels during his presentation to this year’s Helping Families Change Conference at Beurs Van Berlage  in Amsterdam.

Mounting evidence of the cumulative effects of complex trauma, toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences has helped shift the way that child support services are delivered across a number of US states, this year’s Helping Families Change Conference (HFCC) was told.

In his keynote address to the 17th annual HFCC in Amsterdam, the former director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Bryan Samuels, said that for the past 15 years, US state administrators had focused on the safety and permanency of children in the welfare system at the expense of outcomes based on child welfare.

“There is no doubt that children in harm’s way should be removed from a dangerous situation,’’ Mr Samuels said. “However, simply moving a child out of immediate danger does not in itself reverse or eliminate the way that he or she has learned to be fearful. The child’s memory retains those learned links and such thoughts and memories are sufficient to elicit ongoing fear and make a child anxious.’’

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