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Program evaluation of a court mandated parent education course: A focus on child related outcomes

16 April 1999


Divorce has been associated with negative effects for children. In response, courtmandated parent-education courses have evolved as a preventative effort to reduce the negative effects of divorce on children. This study examined the effectiveness of a courtmandated parent-education course being conducted in two Oregon counties at meeting child-related goals. Parents completed a questionnaire either immediately before or after attending the course. Three hundred and thirty-one parents participated in the study. A group of 54 parents-were-randomly selected for a six-month follow-up. Results found little difference between groups in pre- versus post-class comparisons. Parents in the post-class sample reported more child-related problems suggesting that the course may have sensitized parents to children's problems and/or normalized this experience. Significant differences were found between responses at the time of the class and at the six-month follow-up. Parents reported an increase in putting their children in the middle of conflict and a decrease in the parent-child relationship at six months. Implications for programmatic changes are explored, including utilizing a skill-based approach to parent education rather than an education-focused approach. Specific areas of focus include parenting skills, the co-parental relationship, and the parent-child relationship. Finally, utilizing a screening strategy to focus the intervention for the appropriate population is explored.


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