Cover: Parenting Programs in Shelby County, Tennessee

Parenting Programs in Shelby County, Tennessee

A Brief Review of the Research Literature

Published May 16, 2016

by Anamarie A. Whitaker, Clare Stevens, Jill S. Cannon, Lisa Sontag-Padilla

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Research Question

  1. What outcomes are associated with rigorously evaluated parenting programs currently operating in Shelby County, Tennessee?

Programs that serve parents of young children provide families with services in order to improve parenting practices and positively influence children's development. The Urban Child Institute (UCI), a nonprofit organization in Memphis, Tennessee, has a specific focus on serving parents and children in the local community. One way to meet this goal is through promoting effective programs. In this report, the authors provide an overview of outcomes associated with rigorously evaluated parenting programs currently operating in Shelby County.

UCI commissioned RAND to conduct a review of the relevant research literature on parenting programs currently operating in Shelby County that serve parents with young children. The authors provide guidance for UCI and other organizations in the county about the evidence supporting existing programs and areas where further research is needed, based on a broad review of national, state, and local research on parenting programs that focus on positive parenting practices and serve parents with children from birth to age five.

Additionally, the authors recommend how UCI, as a community partner, can support connections between parents and programs that foster positive parenting practices for young children. Each of the programs included in this report is associated with improvements in parenting or child outcomes. However, although evidence exists that supports the effectiveness of these parenting programs, not all programs produce the same level of evidence of effectiveness, and notable gaps in the research remain.

Key Findings

Reviewing Parenting Programs Will Support Similar Evidence-Based Programs and Other Rigorous Evaluations

  • Programs that serve parents of young children aim to improve parenting practices and positively influence child development.
  • Programs have multiple delivery formats and seek to serve families with various risk factors, including those with children who have special needs.
  • Several research-based parenting programs currently operate in Shelby County, Tennessee, and serve thousands of children and their parents.
  • Programs operating in Shelby County have been rigorously evaluated (either in Shelby County or other locations), and the results indicate that these programs can produce positive short- and long-term effects for children and their parents, particularly in the areas of improved home environment quality and positive child development.


  • UCI should continue to support programs with a strong evidence base and demonstrated outcomes that are currently operating in the county by promoting them to parents in need and advocating for additional resources and program capacity to meet increased demand.
  • UCI should financially support and advocate for the evaluation of existing parenting programs that have not previously been evaluated with rigorous methods.

The research for this report was conducted jointly within RAND Health and RAND Education, divisions of the RAND Corporation.

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