Evidence of Effectiveness and Measurement Tools

Providing evidence of effectiveness of our program work has become increasingly important to all of us. Funding sources often require it, and even when they don’t, we can agree that when we take time to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, we see improved results from our efforts to strengthen families and children. Active Parenting demonstrates its commitment to scientific rigor by providing access to our own studies published in peer reviewed journals, sharing other independent research on AP programs, and by offering the free use of our program evaluation surveys to leaders.

Research results

Announcing Results from the First Five Years Research Study, Now Accepted for Publication in Child & Youth Care Forum

Click to download First Five Years research study results.

View on the journal’s website.


  • Parenting is a learned skill that can be strengthened and improved through experience and education. Moreover, support obtained from group-based parenting education programs has been shown to reduce parenting stress and build a sense of competence in parenting (Kim, 2014; Morris, Robinson, Hays-Grudo, Claussen, Hartwig, & Treat, 2017).
  • This article introduces findings of a national evaluation of the parent education program Active Parenting: First Five Years (Popkin, Morris, Slocum, & Hubbs-Tait, 2017).
  • Active Parenting: First Five Years is designed for parents of children ages 0 to 5, and is implemented over four weekly 2-hour sessions that use a video-based curriculum focused on positive, responsive parenting, skill building, self-care, and tools for developing a healthy and well-adjusted child.


  • To evaluate the effectiveness of the Active Parenting: First Five Years parenting intervention in terms of parenting outcomes including responsive parenting, developmental knowledge, parenting efficacy, mindfulness, and parenting stress; as well as child outcomes of emotion problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and prosocial behavior.


This study presents findings from a national evaluation of the Active Parenting First Five Years (FFY) program, a group-based parent education program which utilizes a video-supported curriculum and is designed to promote responsive parenting and healthy development in children under the age of five, with a unique emphasis on the mental states (i.e., mindfulness, executive function) and well-being of parents. The sample for this study consisted of 213 primary caregivers between the ages of 18 and 81 (Mdn = 30) with 61% mothers, 44% racial minority, 61% partnered, and 81% identified as low-income. Pre- to post-test findings showed significant increases in caregiver reported responsive parenting, developmental knowledge, parenting efficacy, mindfulness, overall child behavior, child prosocial behavior, and decreased parenting stress. Using an innovative Inclusive Randomized Controlled Trial method to establish treatment (N = 66) and comparison (N = 66) study groups, group differences indicative of program effects were detected for parenting outcomes of caregiver reported mindfulness, parenting efficacy, and parenting stress. Findings from this study using the whole sample also suggest that parents who increase their use of mindfulness practices perceive associated changes in their child’s behavior, specifically in areas related to conduct problems. Further considering parents’ mental states, enhanced developmental knowledge and parenting efficacy were shown to predict lower perceived levels of parenting stress across the program. Taken together, these findings illustrate initial effectiveness of the FFY program, as well as emphasize the need for parental well-being to receive increased consideration in parenting intervention designs and curricula.

• FAQ •

Q. Is Active Parenting: First Five Years (FFY) an evidence-based parenting curriculum?
A. YES. The results of the national research study have been accepted for publication in the  peer-reviewed journal Child & Youth Care Forum. Publication date to come soon. This acceptance qualifies Active Parenting: First Five Years as an evidence-based program and for inclusion on registries such as the California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse and others.

Q. What other ways is FFY evidence-based?
A. There are a number of ways:

  1. It is the revision of the 1,2,3,4 Parents! program that showed significant positive outcomes in a study by Donna G. Knauth, Ph.D., RNC, of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey College of Nursing: “The Effect of a Family-of-Origin Genogram and Parenting Intervention on Adolescent Mothers’ Level of Differentiation of Self and Parenting Attitudes.” (Click here for the abstract of that study.)
  2. Like 1,2,3,4 Parents!, FFY is based on the Active Parenting family of programs and uses the Active Parenting model. There are over 20 studies showing evidence of effectiveness for these programs.
  3. Active Parenting author Dr. Michael Popkin teamed with three experts in child development at Oklahoma State University in developing FFY to make sure that the latest research in child development and safety were included in the program.

Third party evidence-based websites listing the program

  • NREPP: SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) was long considered “the gold standard” for evidence-based programs.  Active Parenting, Active Parenting of Teens, and Families in Action were listed as legacy programs from 2008 until NREPP was closed by SAMHSA in 2018.  At that time, the current re-review of our programs had been completed and was waiting for publication. The re-review also included Active Parenting: First Five Years and Active Parenting for Stepfamilies as versions of the Active Parenting program.  Click here for the program profile NREPP had completed for the review.
  • Listed in Penn State Clearinghouse of Military Family Readiness (includes 1,2,3,4 Parents, the original version of Active Parenting: First Five Years, as well as Active Parenting and Active Parenting of Teens). Click to view the Clearinghouse listing.

Measurement tools

Parent survey for your First Five Years class

This questionnaire may be used free of charge to provide evidence of your program’s effectiveness.

Active Parenting Class Evaluation Form
(can be used for any Active Parenting class)

Use this form to collect information from parents about what they liked and what needs improvement in your classes.