The Evidence Portal

e-PALS Baby Net

About the program

e-PALS Baby Net is a web-based parenting intervention for mothers of infants at risk of maltreatment.  It is an online adaption of the Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) program.

Broadly, the program aims to protect against child maltreatment and improve social-emotional behaviour and developmental outcomes. In addition, the online version of the program, e-PALS, seeks to address financial and geographical barriers to accessing the intervention.

Who does it work for?

e-PALS Baby Net was designed for mothers of low income families with young children.

The e-PALS Baby Net program has only been evaluated in the USA (Baggett et al. 2017).

A randomised controlled trial was conducted with 159 people. Children were 3.5-7.5 months old. 43% of mothers identified as an ethnic or racial minority. Many mothers were experiencing symptoms of depression (no further details reported).  Mothers were excluded from the study if they were homeless, living in an area without cell service, or receiving inpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment at the time of screening.

The program has not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

Positive outcomes:

  • Positive parenting behaviours: mothers who received the e-PALS program were more likely to show a positive change in their parenting behaviour, compared to mothers who did not receive the program (Baggett et al. 2017).

No effect:

  • Child abuse potential: the program did not have an effect on mothers child abuse potential (Baggett et al. 2017).

Negative outcomes:

  • No negative effects were found.

How effective is it?

Overall, the program had a mixed effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Mixed research evidence (with no adverse effects):

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • An equal number or more RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects

How is it implemented?

e-PALS Baby Net is delivered online. It consists of 11 sessions:

Seven home-visiting sessions are on:

  • reading infant signals
  • responding with warm and sensitive behaviours
  • maintaining infants’ focus of attention
  • finding opportunities to introduce an object or social game
  • using rich verbal content in combination with physical demonstrations
  • incorporating this constellation of behaviours in everyday activities such as dressing, feeding, and playing and reading with babies to promote very early pre-literacy development.

These seven topics are the same as the original PALS program.

In addition to seven sessions above:

  • an introductory session orients parents to the program
  • two review sessions are conducted, parents can share these with a significant other
  • a cumulative summary session is conducted at the end.

The e-PALS Baby-Net adaptation includes the following structure in each intervention session:

  • self-directed learning through video-based examples and non-examples, with check-in questions using immediate individualised feedback
  • action plan outlining daily activity practice based on skills taught
  • video recorded practice creating a 5-min mother–infant interaction video demonstrating skills learned
  • coach call involving mothers and coaches co-viewing weekly mother-created videos to provide individualised support for conceptual learning and skill acquisition.

How much does it cost?

Not reported.

What else should I consider?

All mothers were given cellular-activated computers to use for up to 6 months to complete the intervention.

Coaches held a bachelor's degree in a helping profession, at a minimum. Initially, they received 2-day training and a coach call implementation guide. They also needed to pass an initial implementation fidelity check. They received ongoing weekly supervision and monthly implementation fidelity checks were conducted.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 RCT conducted in the USA with a sample of 159 people (Baggett et al. 2017). 

Further resources

For more information and resources see:

Baggettet al. (2017), ‘A randomized controlled trial examination of a remote parenting intervention: engagement and effects on parenting behavior and child abuse potential’, Child Maltreatment, vol. 22, no. 4, pp. 315-323.

Last updated:

16 Feb 2023

Was this content useful?
We will use your rating to help improve the site.
Please don't include personal or financial information here
Please don't include personal or financial information here

We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

Top Return to top of page Top