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An Evaluation of the Northern California Parents as Teachers Demonstration

NCJ Number
Mary M. Wagner; Serena Clayton; Suzanne Gerlach-Downie; Mary McElroy
Date Published
September 1999
201 pages

This report describes the results of the randomized clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of the Parents as Teachers home visiting model, in improving a variety of outcomes for parents and their young children.


The authors of this report provide policymakers and practitioners with data-backed insights  into what works to support families and children. The Parents as Teachers Program (PAT) is an example of a widely implemented home visiting program; it is a universal-access, family-focused parent education program that emphasizes parent behavior as the vehicle through which positive impacts on children are to be achieved. The authors of this report provide an in-depth examination of the results of the Northern California PAT Demonstration, a randomized clinical trial to assess the program’s effectiveness in the Salinas Valley to determine the level to which the program was able to provide a home-school-developmental screening collaboration. The report describes the program design and methodology; characteristics of participating families, including ethnicity, household composition, education levels, economic status, and child characteristics; changing family situations, including use of child care and play groups; the PAT program and how families experienced it; parenting outcomes such as knowledge of child development, and parenting behaviors; child outcomes, including cognitive and communication development; the difference that program variations make; and evaluation results. Results indicate that the PAT Demonstration provided modest benefits to enrolled children in some developmental domains, and limited benefits to some subgroups of parents from participating in the PAT model of home visiting. Results also suggest that the program was beneficial for families with Latina mothers, and while children of primarily English-speaking or bilingual Latinas received benefits, there were stronger associations between program participation and child outcomes for children of primarily Spanish-speaking mothers.