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Building Happy Families: Impact Evaluation of a Parenting and Family Skills Intervention for Migrant and Displaced Burmese Families in Thailand

NCJ Number
Amanda L. Sim; Jeannie Annan; Eve S. Puffer; Carmel Salhi; Theresa S. Betancourt
Date Published
November 2014
35 pages

This report describes a study aimed at addressing an information gap on the impact of interventions for forcibly displaced migrant families, with the goal of improving parenting practices and family functions in order to reduce the risk of child maltreatment and promote positive developmental outcomes.


This report presents the results of a randomized controlled trial of a parenting and family skills intervention for Burmese migrant and displaced families living on the Thai-Burmese border. The study included a total of 479 households from 20 communities and took place between 2011 and 2013. The study sought to answer the following three research questions: if an evidence-based parenting and family skills intervention can be implemented in a low-resource, displacement setting; if the intervention has an impact on parenting practices, family functioning, and child behavior, psychosocial wellbeing, and resilience; and what participants’ positive and negative perceptions are of changes in their lives, and what the processes are by which those changes occurred. The authors report six results: high attendance and satisfaction indicate feasibility and acceptability of the intervention; the intervention improved positive parenting practices and caregiver-child interaction; the intervention reduced negative parenting practices, including some forms of harsh punishment; the intervention had a positive impact on family functioning; the intervention decreased children’s behavioral problems and improved their attention and resilience according to either caregiver or child report, but did not impact the children’s emotional problems; and qualitative findings suggested potential unanticipated improvements in caregiver mental health and relationships with other family and community members. Based on their findings, the authors also provide recommendations for research, policy, and practice.