Are parenting programmes cost-effective?

Are parenting programmes cost-effective?

Child behavioural problems can have long-term effects leading to delinquency and criminality in adulthood. These behaviours can subsequently have a large impact on both the individual and the community, and various methods have been used to address these on-going issues.

The aims of parenting programmes

One such method are parenting programmes, a component of family early-intervention schemes aimed at addressing the issue of behavioural problems and conduct disorders in children.

According to The cost-effectiveness of UK parenting programmes for preventing children’s behaviour problems – a review of the evidence, published by Madeline Stevens, parenting programmes have the potential to be a cost-effective and efficient means of dealing with these issues but warns there is a “lack of follow-up of families who drop out of programmes, absence of control groups in longer-term follow-ups, and little information about costs and effects of programmes in routine practice.”

Intervention is working claim NICE

Studies reviewed, including a modelling study undertaken with guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), have shown that short-term effects of family intervention are more easily obtained than long-term results.

Short-term results are mostly positive, whilst longer-term effects are difficult to quantify, but it seems that the high costs associated with conduct disorders in adolescence and adulthood are countered by low-cost family intervention in early years.

However, many aspects are difficult to quantify. Placing a figure on the complex economic and social benefits of reducing conduct disorders is problematic, not least because figures relating to public service-use in later life are difficult to obtain.

The report notes that trials have typically been small, possibly skewing figures, and the costs of enrolling families in the scheme outside of a trial situation may be vastly different in reality.

If the short-term benefits of parenting programmes are to be sustained, it follows that long-term costs of criminality and delinquency should be reduced. This is largely dependent on whether the positive outcomes of parenting programmes persist outside of trials.

The report concludes that, on the whole, parenting programmes have provided positive results that have the potential to be sustained.