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Helping parents with Lifestart

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A recent paper from Queen’s University and the Institute of Child Care Research has shown positive results for parents involved in a trial of the Lifestart parenting programme in Ireland.

Lifestart is a programme for parents of children aged birth to five years old. It aims to give parents the tools they need to enhance their child’s learning environment, and is delivered in their own homes. The programme includes a monthly 30- to 60-minute home visit from a trained Lifestart family visitor, and monthly information based on the Growing Child curriculum.

The authors conducted a randomised controlled trial of Lifestart between 2008 and 2014. A total of 424 parents and children (less than one year old) were recruited from across Ireland and volunteered to take part in the study. Each family was assigned to either the intervention group (who received the programme for five years) or the control group (who did not). The research team visited every family three times and collected information about the children’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioural development, and about parents’ feelings.

The trial found that parents who received Lifestart reported less parenting stress, better knowledge of child development, and more confidence in their parenting. The authors also found positive changes in children’s development, although these changes were not statistically significant. However, they note that significant impact could emerge later as the cumulative effect of improved parenting builds up over time.

Source: A Randomised Controlled Trial Evaluation of the Lifestart Parenting Programme (2015), Queen's University.

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