The Evidence Portal

Parents as Teachers

About the program

The Parents as Teachers program a comprehensive home-visiting, parent education model. It is delivered by parents trained as Teachers Affiliates to families with children from the prenatal period to kindergarten. The model has four dynamic components:

  • Personal Visits
  • Group Connections
  • Resource Network
  • Child Screening

The program has four primary goals:

  1. Increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parent practices
  2. Provide early detection of developmental delays and health issues
  3. Prevent child abuse and neglect
  4. Increase children’s school readiness and success

Who does it work for?

This program is not specifically designed for reduction of harm. However, one RCT in the USA examined the impact of the program on reducing recurrent maltreatment (Jonson-Reid et al. 2018). The study used baseline data from a final sample of 122 families, all of whom had prior contact with child welfare services. The mean age of the parents was 26 years, 40% had not completed high school, and 69% were African American.

This review did not identify any evidence that the program has been evaluated in Australia or with First Nations communities.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

Positive outcomes:

Child abuse and neglect: The study demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in reports to child protection services among children whose families had no child protection services history prior to the report that led them to be referred to the program. The treatment group had fewer re-reports compared to the control group in this demographic. However, there was no statistically significant between-group difference in the proportion of children with re-reports to child protection services during the 18-month follow-up window.

No effect:


Negative outcomes:


Is the program effective?

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

How strong is the evidence?

Promising research evidence:

  • At least one high-quality RCT/QED study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • Fewer 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?

The program is delivered through home visits. The program runs for up to three years if a child is enrolled at birth. Curriculum elements are provided at the discretion of the home visitor to allow flexibility.

How much does it cost?

Information not available

What else should I consider?

The program is delivered by a paraprofessional parent educator and has a child development and parenting curriculum. It has a focus on younger children, and although it is commonly described as being for children from birth to kindergarten, there is limited material for children aged 3 to 5 years.

The Parents as Teachers program has been adapted in Australia and New Zealand as ‘Parents as First Teachers’. The Australian ‘Parents as First Teachers’ has a version for children aged 0-18 months and a version for children aged 18 months to 3 years.  The program  utilises a groupwork  delivery model. It has been delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in remote communities in the Northern Territory.

Where does the evidence come from?

One RCT with an original sample of 167 families, final sample of 122 families (Jonson-Reid et al. 2018). There were 65 caregivers in the intervention group who provided baseline data, and 34 remained after 18 months. In the control group, 57 caregivers provided baseline data, and 29 remained after 18 months.

Further resources

Last updated:

16 Feb 2023

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