Why evidence-based parenting programmes are the key to Levelling Up

The national Levelling Up initiative is a call to “challenge and change unfairness…giving everyone the opportunity to flourish”. This will be achieved not through changes to infrastructure alone, but through integrated regional services and support, including aiming to provide all children with the best possible start in life: strong, stable, and supportive nurturing home environments.

Research around the world repeatedly demonstrates that when parents can freely and easily access high-quality support, they gain the knowledge and skills to create a positive learning environment and support their children’s emotional wellbeing. For this reason, the Chancellor’s Autumn 2021 Comprehensive Spending Review included a pledge to fund “high quality parenting programmes” across the country.

To discuss this, we spoke to the Triple P team in Lancashire who have implemented a wide range of positive parenting programmes across the county.

Lancashire County Council delivers a broad range of Triple P programmes, depending on the level of support required. While every parent can benefit from support from time to time, Lancashire Triple P team also offer group and one-to-one services, where families have concerns about children’s social, emotional and behavioural well-being. There are specialised support programmes for parents of children with additional needs (Stepping Stones Triple P). All of these programmes help build parental confidence to deal with family issues, manage their own stress, and support their children’s learning and development.

Powerful examples of positive change

  • Triple P practitioner Lisa noted that when families have been experiencing difficulties, Triple P gives them practical tools to help them “go back to the basic foundation”. She gave the example of a family who were now able to effectively and calmly use Triple P strategies, improving the child’s potential life outcomes: “They’re spending more time at home, they’re attending school on time and they’re saying they know what their expectations, boundaries and routine looks like.”
  • By delivering the Triple P Family Transitions programme, in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions’ Reducing Parental Conflict initiative, practitioners were able to improve the relationship between ex-partners to reach “a shared outlook” and create more supportive home environments for their children. For example, Lisa explained that one family’s relationship breakdown was negatively impacting their child, but Triple P Family Transitions helped them agree on a parenting approach and language and ways to communicate without anger. In fact, the conflict between the parents reduced to the point they were able to successfully meet with each other and their practitioner and work to put in place a more stable future for their child.
  • Getting positive support has many additional benefits for parents, too. Another Lancashire practitioner shared the example of a parent who, as a result of completing a Triple P programme, felt more confident in her daily life and was empowered to return to work.

Local communities coming together

Underpinning all Lancashire Triple P team’s work is the service’s presence in the community, visible in many ways. For example, delivering Triple P programmes via partnerships with local schools has a dual benefit: more parents know about the programmes and how they can help, and schools’ greater involvement with and knowledge of Triple P helps them offer the services most needed by their community.

Practitioner-led groups across the county share expertise and knowledge as part of the implementation plan supporting these evidence-based programmes. As a result, parents are receiving high-quality and consistent support across Lancashire, whether in Pendle, Rossendale, Burnley, the Ribble Valley or elsewhere.

Group sessions (whether in-person or via video) help parents realise that many others have the same types of concerns and questions, which can be a powerful message to those feeling sad or anxious. This kind of connection has proven to be especially invaluable in light of mental health issues and feelings of isolation created by the pandemic.

“The camaraderie gives people hope,” Triple P practitioner Vanessa explains. “Parents have somewhere to come together to talk with like-minded others…You’re giving them a platform that, if they want to talk, they can talk, and more than often they do. And that’s the value of Triple P, people realise they’re not alone.”

The success of Triple P’s community-led and multi-level programmes in Lancashire shows that evidence-based positive parenting programmes – and the many benefits experienced by families – can provide a solid foundation for Levelling Up. Parents gain the tools to support their children’s development and wellbeing, and also new skills and confidence which can be taken into their work and wider relationships. This community-led approach also gives people ways to support each other and drive positive change in their local area in a sustainable, interconnected way.