Calls for evidence-based parenting programs to be made available to all as part of medical services in US

pediatric settingsAccess to parenting programs in primary care settings should be removed from an “at-risk’’ funding framework in the United States and be made universally available in pediatric settings, an article in the American Medical Association journal, JAMA Pediatrics, recommends.

The article, Parenting as Primary Prevention, is the latest in a string of recommendations calling for evidence-based parenting interventions to be integrated into services provided by US medical services.

Last month The University of Queensland-developed Triple P – Positive Parenting Program was included in an American Academy of Pediatrics policy recommendation to reduce the toxic effects of poverty on children’s health.

In the JAMA Pediatrics article, authors Dr Ellen Perrin, Dr Laurel Leslie, and Dr Thomas Boat argue that programs such as Triple P – , Family Check-Up, Incredible Years and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy have traditionally been located in the US under a mental health funding framework but this needed to change.

Locating funding for parenting interventions under a mental health framework meant that a child’s behaviour needed to be identified as “pathological’’ or the parents’ parenting style or other family characteristics have to be identified as “at risk’’ before families can access services, they argue.

“Parents report hesitation in accepting such referrals because of the stigma attached to their children’s behaviour and their own effectiveness,’’ the authors write.

Founder of Triple P and director of The University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre Professor Matt Sanders said the development of the Triple P system of programs, designed to support large numbers of families across the population with varying degrees of needs, had gone a long way to destigmatise the notion of parenting support.

However, in Australia funding for parenting programs in primary care settings require parents access a mental health care plan before they qualify for support.

Professor Sanders said because a wealth of evidence showed that all parents can benefit from evidence-based parenting support, that support should be available to all in the same way as early child health care is available to every child.