PRELIMINARY IMPACT TO DATE:
At present, seven agencies are using the Family Care Model with parents at their sites, and a number of other agencies are interested in beginning the program shortly. The AAPI tool with over 30 years of reliability and validity is being used to measure improvement in the parental attitudes INCLUDING: 1- belief in corporal punishment, 2- lack of empathy, 3- parent/child role-reversing, 4- inappropriate expectations, 5- oppression of children's independence and autonomy.
Preliminarily, Family Care is showing promise. Retention rates for parent trainings are high and agency directors have noted positive differences in parents being supportive of one another outside the group. Self-evaluations of staff trained in the Family Care Curriculum suggest that the transfer of knowledge enhances staff relationship skills both at work and in their personal lives. Feedback from all the trainers presently using Family Care has been that group facilitation has gone surprisingly well and they are definitely seeing a difference in the parents and their interactions with their children weeks and months after the training.
Anecdotally, the majority of parents trained have reported positive changes in attitudes about their children and themselves, and shifts in parental behaviors to being more available, consistent, and providing more nurturance. Parents reported better understanding their children's behaviors, and learning different ways to discipline. This seemed to translate to feeling better about themselves as parents and having the ability to better enjoy their children. In addition, it appears to be helping often difficult-to-engage parents pro-actively seek the support of their COMMUNITY and become active participants in wanting to improve their parenting skills.
More than half of AAPI participant post-test scores demonstrate improvement from very high levels of risk in all five parental attitudes. Significant is that for the number of participants that took the Family Care Training a second time, they demonstrated continued improvement both at pre-testing of the second training and on their final post-testing. This seems to indicate that positive parental attitude changes are staying stable and may in fact be continuing to improve as time progresses.
In order to measure the significance of changes in parenting attitudes prior to and following participation in the FCC, dependent sample t-tests were performed on AAPI pre-and-post-tests from 27 mothers. T-tests were chosen because they can be used with a relatively small sample size. Two out of five of the parental attitudes (Inappropriate or appropriate Parental expectations and Stifling or Allowing Child Autonomy and Independence) on the AAPI evidenced statistical significance in the anticipated direction from pre-to-post-test (p< .09, ES=.25; and p< .007, ES= .70). Two other attitudes (Belief in Corporal Punishment and Reversing Family Roles) moved in the anticipated direction but did not reach statistical significance. These findings provide preliminary support for the effectiveness of FCC for promoting positive changes in parenting attitudes and beliefs.
The attitude of Parental Empathy also evidenced statistical significance but not in the anticipated direction (p>.09; ES=.35). This finding did not correlate with responses given by these mothers in the qualitative post-test. One possible explanation for this could be that "empathy" is a more complex construct and attitudes/beliefs related to empathy may take a longer time to develop. Additionally, there could have been other confounding factors to explain these scores such as stress/exhaustion for mothers who had birthed additional children during the intervention and possible mental health issues. Further research is needed to better understand this phenomenon.