17 February 2015

While home visiting programs for parents are widely agreed to be a good way to improve outcomes for their babies, not all evaluations have been positive. Does it help to know more about families that are most likely to benefit?

12 February 2015

Children from military families face different problems to their classmates. Their wellbeing is vital; so is it being monitored in schools?

10 February 2015

Early Head Start, serving more than 100,000 children, is the US’s largest early childhood program. It is designed to promote the emotional and cognitive development of infants and toddlers from low-income households, and to support their parents. A new study suggests that it may also have a positive side effect on an outcome it wasn’t designed to target: child maltreatment.

06 February 2015

Randomized controlled trials are the best way to discover the effects of a program. But there’s a catch. RCTs show only how the program worked with the people who agreed to participate in the trial – and those people may be a very different mix than the population for whom the program is really intended. Here, US-based researchers discuss a statistical solution to the problem.

02 February 2015

Recognizing that schools can play an important part to play in preventing harmful use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs is the easy part for policy makers. Finding interventions that are both practicable and “work” is a whole lot harder – as illustrated by the trial of a substance-abuse prevention program across schools in seven European countries.

28 January 2015

Returning from residential care to home is often a bumpy ride for both families and young people. A Boys Town program that aims to smooth the transition shows early promise as a way to keep youth in school and out of trouble.

21 January 2015

The Communities That Care program has been shown to reduce risk factors for youth problem behavior. But the absence of risk is not the same as the presence of protection. Now a new study suggests that CTC also increases protective factors like social skills, healthy friendships, and recognition for good behavior.

19 January 2015

INSIGHTS Into Children’s Temperament (INSIGHTS) is an intervention aimed at helping young children in low-income schools to manage their emotions. By doing so, it hopes to increase children’s attention span and reduce disruptive behavior. The theory is that this will lead to improved school performance. Now the results from a new randomized trial are in.

13 January 2015

Child victimization, abuse and bullying and their harmful consequences are among the most troubling public health issues of our time. An everyday safety skills program in California shows how elementary schools can play an active part in safeguarding children.

23 December 2014

A study of a new reading and language intervention for six-year-olds found a few small improvements, but no effect on reading. In fact, targeted interventions before the start of formal reading instruction usually make little long-term difference to children at risk of dyslexia. Do such findings mean that these programs don’t work – or that, in this case, regular school teaching and parent assistance are already offering good support?

17 December 2014

In compulsory education systems the law provides a final resort when children and young people fail to attend school regularly. But a response to persistent truants based on restorative justice and tailored family support appears more constructive than seeking a court order.

11 December 2014

Politicians, researchers, and program designers are increasingly aware that a segment of families – perhaps up to 5 percent – face multiple, intertwined problems. Ten for the Future, an integrated, needs-led and potentially long-term intervention, is the Dutch welfare system’s response to multi-problem families.

School students attentively listening to their teacher in Istanbul, Turkey:  Prometheus72 /

School students attentively listening to their teacher in Istanbul, Turkey: Prometheus72 /

25 March 2015 | Research

Most studies of implementation look at whether facilitators cover the material in the program manual. But they tend to neglect the role of competence in delivery. A recent study of a school anti-bullying program found that the teachers who taught with warmth and praise, and who covered the material clearly, were the ones who got the best results.

20 March 2015 | Research

Untreated mental health problems in youth can have damaging lifelong consequences. Training staff in schools to identify students with psychiatric disorders, offer support and connect them with specialist help has the potential to prevent the accumulation of long-term negative effects.

12 March 2015 | Research

Life Skills Training (LST) is a substance misuse prevention program used by schools in all 50 US States and 35 different countries. What explains its popularity? Thirty years of careful attention to evidence and rigorous evaluation, say the originators.

06 March 2015 | Research

Parenting training programs have proved helpful for parents or children and teenagers with behavior problems. But getting parents to come to programs is a challenge. What if the program could come to them? A recent study put a training program online and found promising results.

03 March 2015 | Research

Devising new and better interventions is not always the answer to intractable social problems like youth violence and weapon carrying. Sometimes it is important to look more carefully at existing initiatives – as demonstrated by a re-assessment of the Safe Dates program.

25 February 2015 | Research

Laws and strategies against underage drinking are unlikely to prove effective by themselves unless actively applied by communities. How far does it help them to have a toolkit for implementation?

19 February 2015 | Research

More than three quarters of a million parents receive parent training through child welfare services in the US each year. The good news is that there are a handful of well-tested programs for parents of young children. The bad news is that, given low budgets and a tradition of home-grown programs, it’s not always practical for child welfare agencies to use them. A new review suggests a way forward.

Most popular

10 May 2010 | Comment

Resources may be scarce and policy makers might have to make difficult decisions about what to buy. But a more rational strategy that invests early for later benefits would make sometimes nitpicking and frequently complicated comparisons between the value of one "flagship" prevention program and another irrelevant.

11 May 2010 | What Works

The family systems approach that underpins parenting programs such as Multisystemic Therapy, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care and Functional Family Therapy may have a value in the treatment of juvenile sex offending, psychologists at the Medical University of South Carolina suggest.

01 May 2007 | What Works

Results of introducing an American parenting program to parts of Wales under the aegis of the well-established UK prevention initiative, Sure Start, have been so encouraging that they pose important challenges to makers of UK policy.

08 November 2007 | Comment

Nick Axford explains the differences between English and Welsh approaches to implementing and evaluating Sure Start – and considers the lessons for the future.

20 April 2011 | What Works

A popular program for helping children with language learning difficulties is found to have no impact and even detrimental effects in some cases.

04 September 2007 | Research

Introduction of year-round schooling with shorter breaks to limit the damage holidays do to the education of poorer children has failed a test in Ohio. "Year-round calendars do not fix the problem of summer learning," the research team reports. "They simply sweep it under the rug of fall, winter, and spring."

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Editor's Picks

There is more to the international transfer of prevention programs than just hitting the “copy and paste” buttons. The introduction of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program to Ireland offers insights into how to succeed.

Few people working with children will have heard the term “prevention scientist,” let alone know what one is or does. Yet this relatively new breed of researcher is behind the growing list of evidence-based programs being promoted in western developed countries. A new publication puts them under the microscope.

Crime and antisocial behavior prevention efforts have flourished over the last 10 years in the US. This progress can and should be used to help communities improve the life chances of their young people, a recent update urges.

Given the well-known barriers to implementing evidence-based programs, is it better to identify their discrete elements and trust practitioners to combine them in tailored packages depending on the needs of the child and family in question?

The final official review on child protection offers a shakeup of services.