Supporting young children's development through parenting interventions: an analysis using Theory of Change

The role of the parent has been clearly defined in the literature as having a positive influence on children’s emotional, behavioural and educational development, more so than other factors such as maternal education, poverty, peers socio-economic status and schooling (DfES, 2003; Desforges with Abouchaar,2003). Supporting the capacity to parent is of prime interest when considering how to improve opportunities for the most disadvantaged families and their children. The presentation will address evidence on the rationale of preventative policies as well as what we know from theories about parental involvement and its role on children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development. It will attempt to shed light on what we know about supporting parents as their children’s first educators through interventions that are initiated both by the government and the voluntary sector. The presentation will use Theory of Change, as a well articulated theory of change has been seen as an effective way to an intervention’s success allowing the programme developers to describe in detail the rationale behind the development of their intervention, the theoretical framework that underpins their work, and to identify the potential causal links that might be bringing change to the agreed outcomes as a result. The presentation will highlight two different examples of such interventions, one funded by the government and one stemming from the voluntary sector.