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Parenting Education
A Key Topic Resource List

Publication Date: May 2007

This Key Topic Resource List on Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) was compiled by Research Connections .

Research Connections conducted a comprehensive search of its collection for resources focused on parenting education as it relates to child care and early education. This Key Topic Resource List includes an overview of what the parenting education literature addresses, as well as a listing of selected resources on the topic.

Based on the search results, resources are grouped into the following categories:

  • Overviews and recommendations for parent education programs
  • Even Start/ family literacy
  • Head Start/Early Head Start
  • Healthy Steps
  • Effects of parent education programs on parents and children

From the many results, Research Connections selected a limited number of resources of various types- including reports and papers, fact sheets and briefs, summaries, and reviews.

Within each category, resources are organized according to publisher type and publication date. Research Connections’ one-sentence description is included for each resource on the following list. For complete citations, which include abstracts and full text for some resources, click on the titles. For more information on programs that support families, see Research Connections’ Key Topic Resource List on Family Support.


The goal of parenting education is to strengthen parents’ and other caregivers’ knowledge about how their actions affect child development and give them skills to help their child’s health development and school readiness. Parent education includes a broad range of initiatives to help support parents in their role as the prime educators of their children, from home visiting services, to parenting classes, to family literacy promotion classes, to brochures and books in pediatric offices. Examples of federally funded parenting education programs include Even Start, Early Head Start, Head Start (i.e. Best families), and Healthy Steps.

Parenting education programs vary greatly in terms of their focus, delivery methods, and program intensity. Variation may also occur from site to site, making it difficult to evaluate the effects of programs and draw conclusions about what type of program is most beneficial for families. Parenting education programs also struggle to keep families engaged in services. Low family participation rates also compound the difficulty in evaluating these programs.

Given the wide variety of parenting programs and the evaluation challenges, the literature on parenting education tends to be descriptive. Some of the evaluation research on parenting education programs however, has included research questions such as:

  • Does program participation affect parents’ child rearing style, parent-child communication, and parent and teacher ratings of children’s behavior?
  • Does a child participating in an early childhood program receive additive benefits from also being in a family that participates in parenting education services?
  • Does the Early Head Start program have significant impacts on parent and child outcomes at age 3, when the program concluded? Does adherence to the Head Start Program Performance Standards matter? Are impacts more likely to be found, or likely to be greater in magnitude, in Early Head Start programs that offer both center- and home-based services (a mixed approach), or in programs that offer only, or primarily, home- or center-based services?
  • To what extent does the Healthy Steps program affect parents' knowledge, beliefs and practices regarding their understanding of early child development and parenting? To what degree did the Healthy Steps program affect parents' utilization of health care services, adoption of health and safety promotion practices, and satisfaction with pediatric care for their young children? To what degree does the Healthy Steps program affect children’s health and development?

For more information or additional Key Topic Resource Lists, please go to the Research Connections website.