Education Endowment Foundation:ParentChild+


Family Lives
Implementation costThe cost estimates in the Toolkits are based on the average cost of delivering the intervention.
Evidence strengthThis rating provides an overall estimate of the robustness of the evidence, to help support professional decision-making in schools.
Impact (months)The impact measure shows the number of additional months of progress made, on average, by children and young people who received the intervention, compared to similar children and young people who did not.
Project info

Independent Evaluator

University of York logo
University of York
Durham University logo
Durham University
An intensive home-visiting programme focused on disadvantaged 2 – 4‑year olds
Pupils: 283 Grant: £862,269
Key Stage: EY Duration: 3 year(s) 7 month(s) Type of Trial: Efficacy Trial
Completed September 2022

ParentChild+ is an intensive 15-month home visiting programme primarily for low-income families with a 2 – 3‑year-old child. The programme was originally developed in the US and is delivered in the UK by the charitable organisation Family Lives. During the twice weekly (30-minute) visits trained home visitors model reading, conversation and play activities to parents using books and educational toys that are gifted to the family as part of the programme. These activities seek to increase parent-child interaction, promote positive behaviours and encourage early literacy skills with the overall aim to enhance the home learning environment and foster academic success.

As part of the Home Learning Environment Round, the EEF partnered with the Department for Education and Leeds-based education charity SHINE to test programmes that support parents to help improve their children’s cognitive skills at home during their child’s Early Years. ParentChild+ was funded through this round. There is evidence of the effectiveness of the ParentChild+ programme from the United States; studies conducted there show positive effects on vocabulary and language outcomes for pre-school children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Programme delivery and the evaluation were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Delivery of the programme was paused for four months from the end of March 2020 to the end of July 2020, due to the first national lockdown. During the pause, contact between families and home visitors was maintained through weekly phone calls. Once delivery resumed it did so in a covid-impacted environment with further local and national lockdowns taking place and so a third of home visits were required to be provided online to facilitate social distancing. Remote delivery of ParentChild+ is not typical – this was the first-time online delivery was provided and researched.

With these caveats in mind, children in families who received ParentChild+ made the equivalent of 2 fewer months’ progress in receptive vocabulary development, on average, compared to children in families who did not receive the programme. This result has a moderate to high security rating. These results are inconsistent with trials of the programme conducted in the United States.

Exploratory analysis looked at the 40% of families in the sample who were eligible for free 2‑year-old early learning places. This analysis suggested children in families who received ParentChild+ and were eligible for free 2‑year-old early learning places made the equivalent of 3 fewer months’ progress in receptive vocabulary development, compared to children in similar families who did not receive the programme. This result has lower security given the smaller number of children included in the analysis.

Other outcomes gave inconsistent results: ParentChild+ had a low to moderate negative impact on children’s communication, fine motor skills and personal-social behaviour in families who received the programme compared to those who did not, as reported by parents who completed the Ages & Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). There is some uncertainty in this finding given many children scored highly on the assessment (ceiling effects). In contrast, parents’ ratings of children’s home learning environment suggested the programme had a significant moderate positive impact on this outcome for those who received ParentChild+ than those who did not receive the programme. In surveys the majority of parents were positive about the programme, spoke highly of the home visitors and reported that they strongly agreed’ participation had increased their knowledge and confidence with supporting their child’s learning and behaviour.

The EEF will use the findings from this trial to inform the design of home visiting interventions and evaluations it may fund in the future.

ImpactThe size of the difference between pupils in this trial and other pupils
SecurityHow confident are we in this result?
Receptive vocabulary
Months' progress
(Effect size -0.14)
Receptive vocabulary (FEL)
Months' progress
(Effect size -0.22)