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Citation:Brooks-Gunn, J., Berlin, L. J., & Fuligni, A. S. (2000). Early childhood intervention programs: What about the family? In J. Shonkoff & S. Meisels (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood intervention (pp. 549-577). New York: Cambridge University Press.

The purpose of this literature review was to examine early childhood programsÕ effects, if any, on parents; although most of the programs included attention to child outcomes, that was not the focus here. The review addresses three categories of programs whose services began prenatally or in the first three years of the childÕs life. The first category is parent-focused home visiting programs, for which 17 programs were reviewed. Services in this category varied from comprehensive family assistance to a specific focus on parent education or parent-child attachment. A second category is programs that combine center-based services for children with home-based services for parents, for which 10 programs were reviewed. The third category is literacy programs, including both intergenerational (i.e., targeted to both children and their adult caregivers) and parent-focused programs; for this category, five major programs and their variations were reviewed. Overall, the authors reported Òsome positive and some mixed findingsÓ regarding programsÕ effects on parents (p. 561). In each category, studies tended to focus primarily on a different set of effects. Studies of parent-focused home-based programs most frequently focused on parent-child interaction or relationship quality Of the seventeen programs reviewed, thirteen examined parent-child interactions or relationships; all but two indicated at least some treatment benefits, generally in terms of Ògreater degrees or incidence of sensitive parentingÓ (p. 553). Findings regarding combined center- and home-based programs focused on several different outcomes. One was on parenting behaviors. Of seven studies that reported on this outcome, six found positive program effects, while one found no difference between parents in the program and control groups. Another outcome addressed by these studies was improving parentsÕ educational and work opportunities, with the goal of improving the familyÕs socioeconomic resources and well-being. All three of the studies reporting on these outcomes found positive effects on parental employment or education. Findings related to literacy programs focused on parentsÕ educational gains, generally reporting small but statistically significant improvements. Two studies compared family literacy programs and adult-only literacy programs and found statistically significant differences in favor of the family literacy programs.

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