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Parenting education for low-income parents of preschoolers: What is the most effective approach?

Dissertation
Author: Darla Meredith Clayton
Abstract:
Parent education programs have been found to be effective interventions for lower-socioeconomic families. (Baydar, Reid, & Webster-Stratton, 2002). Although research has reliably reported that any parent training is better than no parent training (Helm & Kozloff, 1986), the effectiveness of group parent education programs which emphasize relational improvement is largely unknown. The present study attempted to address this question by comparing archival data collected between the years 1999 and 2004 from two different parent training programs, the Community Parent Education Program (COPE) (Cunningham, Bremner, & Secord-Gilbert, 1994) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) (Hembree-Kigin, & McNeil, 1995). One hundred eleven parents whose children were registered in a rural Pennsylvania Head Start program completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (Achenbach, & Rescorla, 2000) and the Parent Practices Scale (PPS) (Strayhorn, & Weidman, 1988), the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) (Robinson, & Eyberg, 1981) tracked play behaviors for parents in the PCIT group. Contrary to the study hypotheses, there were no statistically significant improvements in the PCIT and COPE participants reports of either their child's internalizing or externalizing behaviors or their own parenting behaviors compared with the control group. An examination of differences in clinical vs. nonclinical children also did not reveal pre-or post-testing differences in these children. In addition, the validity of the PPS as a measure of parenting behaviors was unsuccessfully tested against the DPICS rating indicating that the two measures may not be measuring the same construct. Furthermore, a factor analysis of the PPS only accounted for 37% of the variance. The data did result in some interesting findings. A relationship between parents' use of harsh punishment and their positive play behaviors was found such that parents engaging in less use of harsh punishment also engaged in fewer positive play behaviors. It was also found that single parents were more likely to drop out of parenting programs than dual parent families. Limitations to the study include the uneven composition of the groups, the lack of random assignment to the groups, and the self selection of those who chose to participate in the programs.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter Page 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.....................................................1

2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE.......................................................5

History of Parent Training.....................................................................5 Low-income Families..........................................................................10 The Need for Parent Education..................................................10 History of Parent Education for Low-Income Families.............12 Contemporary Parent Training for Low-income Families.........16 Non-Attendance and Attrition....................................................16 What Attracts Low-Income Parents?.........................................19 Parent Training for Parents of Preschoolers........................................20 Low-income Parent’s of Head Start Preschoolers.....................22 Established Parenting Education Programs.........................................25 Community Parent Education Program (COPE).......................25 Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)..................................27 The development of PCIT.....................................................28 Research supporting PCIT....................................................29 Summary and Hypotheses....................................................................31

3 METHODS..........................................................................................34

Participants................................................................................34 Materials...................................................................................35 Procedure..................................................................................37 PCIT group...........................................................................38 Adapting PCIT for group and non-clinical populations......39 COPE group.........................................................................42

4 RESULTS............................................................................................44

Descriptive Statistics.......................................................................44 PCIT Participants.......................................................................44 COPE Participants.....................................................................45 Control Subjects.........................................................................46 Completer vs. Non-completer Analyses.........................................48 Demographic Analyses..............................................................48 Dependent Measures Pretest Equivalency.................................48 Comparison of Programs Analyses.................................................49 CBCL Pretest equivalency of mean scores................................49 PPS Pretest Equivalency of Mean Scores..................................50 Posttest Comparisons.................................................................50 Improvement Analyses..............................................................51

vi

Comparison of “Clinical” vs. “Nonclinical” Child Behavior Problems.........................................................................................53 Dose Response Analyses................................................................56 PPS Factor Analysis........................................................................58 PPS Validity Analysis.....................................................................63

5 DISCUSSION......................................................................................66

Completers vs. Non-Completers Comparisons..........................66 PCIT, COPE and Control Group...............................................66 Clinical vs. Non-Clinical Children............................................67 Dose Response...........................................................................68 Factor Analysis..........................................................................69 Parent Practices Scale Validity..................................................70 Sampling Issues.........................................................................71 Conclusion.................................................................................73

REFERENCES............................................................................................................75

APPENDICES.............................................................................................................83

Appendix A-Parent Practices Scale (PPS)...........................................84 Appendix B-Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System Definitions............................................................................................93 Appendix C-Informed Consent............................................................94 Appendix D-Sample PCIT Script........................................................96 Appendix E-Sample COPE Script.....................................................103

vii

LIST OF TABLES

Table Page

1 Demographic Frequencies across Groups............................................46

2 Mean Pre-test CBCL and PPS Scores for Completers and Non-completers....................................................................................49

3 CBCL and PPS Post-Test Scores Across Groups................................51

4 CBCL and PPS Change Scores Across Programs...............................52

5 Mean Change Scores on Dependent Measures Across Groups.............52

6 Clinical vs. Nonclinical Comparisons on Demographic and DPIC Characteristics............................................................................55

7 Clinical vs. Nonclinical Children Comparisons on CBCL and PPS Scores......................................................................................56

8 DPICS Scores for Positive and Undesirable Play Behaviors Across Sessions ...............................................................................................57

9 Total Variance Explained for Factor Analysis of Parent Practices Scale.....................................................................................................59

10 Items Loading on Each of Three Factors.............................................60

11 Correlations of Desirable (+) and Undesirable (-) Play Behaviors as Measured by DPICS with the PPS Factors.........................................64

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ix

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure Page

1 Across Sessions Observer DPICS Scores ...........................................58

1 CHAPTER 1: STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Parent education programs have consistently been found to be effective interventions for many families. These education programs offer a variety of parent training styles and include a range of program components. Although research has reliably reported that any parent training is better than no parent training (Helm & Kozloff, 1986), the effectiveness of parent education programs deemphasizing disciplinary techniques and emphasizing relational improvement is largely unknown. The present study attempts to address this question, by comparing two distinct parent training programs, one in which disciplinary techniques are central and one in which the improvement of parent-child interactions is emphasized, on a variety of outcome measures. Parenting is a demanding task for most parents; however, it can be especially trying for low-income families who are forced to be predominantly concerned with meeting their family’s survival needs. Middle class families may have occasional economic concerns, but low-income families battle continual poverty along with the pressures and lack of resources poverty causes. Parenting assistance is especially important for impoverished families who, because of their higher stress levels, are at greater risk for a variety of parenting and child problems. For instance, children in these families are more likely to suffer from child abuse or neglect (Christmas, Wodarski and Smokowski; 1996). Parenting classes may be beneficial as they introduce low-income parents to alternate, non-violent options for disciplining their children. Parenting classes offered in a group format may have the additional benefit of providing low-income families with information that help them understand normal child behavior and therefore

2 become less punitive for age-appropriate behaviors. Being in a group of parents who have the opportunity to share their parenting frustrations and compare their childrearing strategies in a non-judgmental fashion encourages low-income parents, who are often the focus of scrutiny from the community, to make positive non-abusive changes in their parenting strategies. Parent isolation has also been linked to child abuse. “Social isolation is considered one of the problems associated with all types of child maltreatment” (Christmas et al, 1996, p.238). Parent training classes offered in a group format can be beneficial in alleviating this risk factor as well. Often parents socialize with each other in these groups thereby using the classes as an opportunity to widen their support networks. Similarly, reducing social isolation has been implicated in reducing maternal depression, another risk factor for child abuse cited by Christmas et al (1996). The importance and positive impact of parent training for low-income families has been well documented (Goodyear & Rubovits, 1982; Webster-Stratton & Beauchaine, 2002). However, this positive impact cannot reach the families who need it when barriers to attendance keep families from signing up for the classes, or when families drop out of programs prematurely. The most predominant barriers are the financial ones (Wood & Baker, 1999). If participating in parent training will reduce the amount of money available in the family, even if it is an insignificant amount by middle class standards, it may prevent low-income families from seeking services. A lack of childcare availability and/or the expense of childcare are additional financial burdens for low-income families wanting to attend parent training classes (Wood & Baker, 1999). A general lack of trust for professionals who typically facilitate parent training classes is

3 another often noted barrier to participation for impoverished families. Other reported barriers to group attendance include unavailability of transportation (especially in more rural communities), and classes being offered at inconvenient times (Wood & Baker, 1999). According to Cunningham, Bremner, and Secord-Gilbert (2004) between 25% and 50% of low-income parents drop out of parent education programs. The majority of parent training classes are designed for parents of young children (Croake & Glover, 1977). Interestingly, children under 6 years of age are at higher risk for injury or death due to child abuse. In fact, The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect (2003) reported that child abuse accounted for 85% of the deaths of preschool children. As reported earlier, children from low-income families are at an increased risk for abuse (Daro, 1988, as cited in Christmas et al, 1996), and children under six are also an at risk group for child abuse. Therefore, preschool children from low-income families are in an exceptionally high-risk category for abuse, and are at greater risk of death due to child abuse (Daro, 1988, as cited in Christmas et al, 1996; National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2003). Furthermore, parent training of preschool-aged children is thought to be more effective for four reasons. Firstly, the problems tend to be less ingrained at this younger age. Secondly, parental interventions are more effective because preschoolers lack strong peer influences. Thirdly, young children are more accepting of changes in behavioral contingencies. Finally, young children with severe conduct problems still tend to show affection toward their parents (Hembree-Kigin & McNeil, 1995). Hembree-Kigin and McNeil believe that it is especially important to treat behavioral problems of children at a young age because if

4 left untreated these problems often get worse over time and interfere with the child’s development. As was related above, parent education for parents of low-income and preschool children has the potential to be a very valuable tool to help reduce behavior problems and potentially child abuse. Problems with attrition and barriers to seeking treatment continue to exist for many low-income families. Yet we know that teaching parents the necessary skills while the child is still of preschool age can lead to a much better quality of life for the child and the parent in the years to come. This research hopes to provide information that might be valuable to future parent education administrators including which type of program is more effective, and what differences might exist between the people who complete programs and those who drop out early.

5 CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE History of Parent Training Parenting education, although currently quite popular, is not a recent trend. In the United States, parent education has been available in one form or another “for as long as we have records” (Brim, 1959, p.17). The first recorded meeting of parent education groups in the United States was in Portland, Maine in 1815 (Croake & Glover, 1977), and these groups have been increasing in popularity since the late 1800’s (Brim, 1959). Croake and Glover (1977) reported that prior to the 1920’s groups called “maternal associations” provided a format where mothers could meet and talk about the difficulties they faced while raising their children. These early attempts at parent education/support tended to be casual, unorganized meetings of lay people until the 1920’s when professionals began to administer what was termed “parent training programs”. A variety of socio-historical changes in family life have likely influenced the upsurge in the popularity of formalized parent education. Grant (1998) described a trend of reduced family size that seemed to have led to a shift in how childrearing was approached. In the seventeenth century, families often raised, on average, seven or eight children (Grant, 1998; Family Planning, 1999). The average number of children per family gradually decreased during the nineteenth century and “…by 1900, the average woman had three or four children at close intervals and ended her childbearing at an earlier age than her grandmother had” (Grant, 1998, p.15). The introduction of the birth control movement and the increased access to contraceptives, as well as an improved understanding of reproduction, were important factors contributing to this decrease in family size (Family Planning, 1999). Grant (1998) contends that a shift in the number of

6 children per family led to an “intensive” style of mothering compared to the “extensive” type of mothering characteristic of the seventeenth century. “Intensive” mothering meant that mothers concentrated their resources on a smaller number of children thereby putting additional focus on mothers to rear their children in a fashion that would assure healthy and productive adults. The number of children per family has continued to decrease over time. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, the number of children per family, considering only the families with children, was 1.86. Thus, contemporary families reflect an obvious decrease from the child responsibilities of the 17 th century when families typically raised seven or eight children, and the 1900’s when families typically raised three or four children. The intensive mothering ideology is currently the most prevalent philosophy for motherhood in the United States today (Arendell, 2000). Formal parent education seems to fit well with the more “intensive” style of parenting that has come about with decreased family size. As the size of families has decreased, it has become especially important for families to raise children who will become productive members of society. Having fewer children may lead parents to focus more staunchly on the children that they have, part of which may include parents examining their parenting skills and seeking to make changes where appropriate. Parenting education classes offer information to parents to assist in their accomplishment of this goal. A second important societal factor influencing the increased need for parent education may be the increase in family mobility. Brim (1959) stated that “…the decline in frequency of intergenerational family relations, [has arose] from the fact that now in

7 our society most newly married couples established residence apart from their parental homes…” (p.17). In the past, families generally learned about childrearing from relatives and friends, but this became more difficult as they began to move farther and farther from their extended support networks (Grant, 1998). Because women were no longer close in proximity to their mothers, sisters, or friends, whom they might typically ask about important childrearing issues that arose, and because they were less likely to know comparable people in the areas in which they resided, informal meetings of parents eventually grew into more formalized parenting education groups. Parents generally heard about parenting meetings through word of mouth, at their church or at a local store, and found that the groups provided an opportunity to get answers to their childrearing questions. Economic changes were also important as fathers began working more often outside the home, leaving mothers in charge of most childrearing tasks that had previously been shared by both parents (Grant, 1998). In the early colonial period families worked together for the benefit of the family farm and to complete necessary tasks for the good of the family unit. The work of women and children was considered equal in value to that of the man of the house because of the importance of their labor to the family’s survival (Abramovitz, 1976). As industrial production grew and families began moving to the cities, many fathers were forced by financial constraints to work outside the home and frequently worked ten to twelve hours, six days a week (Abramovitz, 1976). Mothers in these families were left with the majority of the responsibility for childrearing, so that when dilemmas with their children’s behavior or mental and physical health arose, it was the mothers who received the blame for the

8 problems (Jones, 1999). An example of the pressure on mothers can be found in the writings of William Buchan, in his 1804 book Advice to Mothers. He writes that “…No subsequent endeavors can remedy or correct the evils occasioned by a mother’s negligence” (As cited in Grant, 1998, p.17). Thus, as fathers began to have more limited contact with their children, the responsibility for child problems became predominantly mothers’ work. According to Grant (1998), religion also played a role in parents becoming more invested in raising their children in a moral context. According to Abramovitz (1976), throughout much of American history, ministers were the primary source of childrearing advice for families. The Calvinist faith played an especially important role, particularly as theorists began to place importance on parenting as essential for a child to attain salvation (Grant, 1998). This added an additional realm to parental responsibility, to raise their children to become moral and honorable members of their religious community. Other religions likely exerted similar pressures on parents encouraging them to raise their children in a religious sanctioned manner or at least with religion specific goals in mind. This additional pressure from the church likely influenced parents to seek more advice about the moral upbringing of their children. Such advice sometimes came from church officials and sometimes from professionals such as doctors or nurses or from books such as Jacob Abbott’s Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young published in 1871. Reverend Philips (1865) also wrote a book which outlined the responsibilities of raising children in the Christian faith. He tells parents that: Another part of the home-mission is the spiritual and eternal well-being of its members. This is seen in the typical character of the Christian family. It is an

9 emblem of the church and of heaven. According to this, parents are called to administer the means of grace to their household, to provide for soul as well as for body, to prepare the child for a true membership in the church, as well as for a citizenship in the state, to train for heaven as well as for earth. (Phillips, 1865, p. 29). These are weighty responsibilities with which Phillips is charging parents, and having the power of the church behind him strengthened and authenticated his suggestions, thereby increasing the pressure on parents for child outcomes. Even more confusing for parents is that parenting dictates have changed and shifted over time. Parenting advice provided today may in some cases be in direct conflict with what was being advised in the past. For example, in the early colonial period, ministers often recommended harsh discipline that included the use of sticks or rods to beat children as a way to break down the child’s stubborn will (Abramovitz, 1976). This method was considered acceptable childrearing during the colonial period but is clearly deemed child abuse today and is punishable under our current child protective laws. Just as different parenting programs prescribe different methods today, programs in the past did not all espouse the same ideas. Throughout history there have been varied views about childrearing. Plutarch, an ancient Greek priest, said, "Children ought to be lead to honorable practices by means of encouragement and reasoning, and most certainly not by blows and ill treatment." (Riak, N.D.). Conversely, the King James Version of the Bible (Proverbs 23:13-23:14) states, "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt

10 deliver his soul from hell”. There has seldom, if ever, been agreement on the best way to raise children. In some cases, contemporary parenting advice may not be all that different from some of the advice offered to parents during the 1800’s. Jacob Abbott wrote a book in 1871 entitled: Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young, whose basic lessons about effective parenting do not appear much different from what is frequently taught today in some parent education courses. In fact, Abbott’s advice and the parent education program used in several current parenting classes share many similarities (Webster-Stratton & Hammond, 1997; Cunningham, 2003). The goals of both Abbott’s book and the current parenting programs are to teach parents childrearing techniques that are as gentle as possible while still proposing effective methods for controlling child behavior. Parenting styles and needs have changed over time, but parenting counsel has remained the same in some respects and has changed in ways that generally mirror the socio-historical context. Low-income Families The Need for Parent Education Parenting is a challenging task for most parents; however, it can be especially demanding for low-income families who are forced to be primarily concerned with meeting their family’s survival needs. Middle class families may occasionally struggle with economic concerns, but low-income families battle continual poverty along with the pressures and lack of resources poverty creates. Parenting assistance is especially important for impoverished families who, because of their higher stress levels, are at greater risk for a variety of parenting and child problems.

11 The availability of parent education classes geared towards low-income families is important because children in these families are more likely to suffer from child abuse or neglect (Christmas, Wodarski and Smokowski; 1996). According to the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect (2003), child abuse perpetrators tend to be “…living at or below the poverty level” (p.4). Similarly, Daro (1988, as cited in Christmas et al, 1996) reported that among the children who were primarily physically abused, 77.4% of the families were struggling with money problems and most of the deaths due to maltreatment occurred among the very poor. Thus, children from low- income families are more likely to be abused and are also more likely to die at the hands of their caretakers. Parenting classes introduce low-income parents to alternate, non- violent options for disciplining their children. Parenting classes offered in a group format can be especially beneficial to low- income families who may have little normalizing information available to them. Being a part of a group of parents who routinely share their parenting frustrations and compare their childrearing strategies in a non-judgmental manner encourages low-income parents, who are often the focus of scrutiny from social service agencies and local community members, to make positive non-abusive changes in their parenting strategies. Parent isolation has also been linked to child abuse. “Social isolation is considered one of the problems associated with all types of child maltreatment” (Christmas et al, 1996, p.238). Parent training classes offered in a group format can be helpful in alleviating this risk factor as well. Often parents socialize with each other in these groups by this means using the classes as an opportunity to widen their support networks. Goodyear and Rubovits (1982) found that when working with a low-income

12 population, the parent training classes began to “…represent an enjoyable night out” for the parents, specifically when childcare was offered (p.411). Similarly, reducing social isolation has been implicated in reducing maternal depression, another risk factor for child abuse cited by Christmas et al (1996). History of Parent Education for Low-Income Families Initial attempts to provide parent education for low-income families appear to have begun in the early 1900’s as a response to a high infant mortality rate in this population (Grant, 1998) and the emergence of the pediatric specialty in medicine (Jones, 1999). According to Jones (1991), these new pediatricians determined that the high infant mortality rate was associated with low-income families who did not understand how to provide appropriate and safe nutrition and therefore, fed their babies spoiled milk because it was often the only milk available to them. The goal of these early parent education attempts was directed at providing health and safety information and changing parents’ perceptions about their children’s need for a doctor (i.e. to ensure they are healthy rather than utilization only when their child was ill). This movement led to safe milk-stations, infant health and care education, and well-baby medical evaluations (Grant, 1998). Parent education for low-income families regarding child development and emotional issues was an extension of the well-baby idea as professionals working with these families recognized that low-income families were raising their children quite differently from the middle-class. Low-income families tended to raise their children in a more traditional manner relying on the advice of their mothers and their grandmothers and raising their children in the same way they themselves were raised (Grant, 1998).

13 Grant proposed that a problem with the traditional childrearing methods was that, when the strategy did not work, the low-income parents, as did their parents, were prone to believe that the child was naturally bad, rather than considering the fallibility of their approach. In describing the causes leading to the parent education movement, Brim (1959) explains that one of the factors was “…a growing belief on the part of many persons that there existed better ways of rearing children than those prescribed by traditions” (p. 18). During the early to mid 1900’s, parent training opportunities for low-income families became more available. Because the informational needs of low-income families in the 1900’s tended to be different from those of the middle class parenting group leaders (Grant, 1998), a mismatch occurred between the content of these classes and the situations in which, many low-income families were forced to live. There were two key complaints about these efforts. First, these parent training classes were typically taught by white women, many of whom did not have children of their own. And secondly, the participants reported that the classes did not provide information that was specifically relevant for the problems of low-income living (Grant, 1998). Rose (1998) illustrated the difference in thinking between middle class and working class women when she explained how the elite women who worked in child care centers during this time believed that lower-class mothers working outside of the home were depriving their children of a childhood; whereas, the working class women viewed their work outside of the home as nurturing because it enabled them to financially provide for their families. Clearly there were value and experiential differences that

14 drove each group’s ideology about what constituted best parenting practices. While the low-income families were struggling to assure the physiological and safety needs of their families, middle-class child guidance educators were emphasizing the importance of encouraging self-esteem for healthy child development. Therefore, the crucial focus for middle class families was not salient for working class mothers who had to be chiefly concerned with providing food for their children for lunch the next day and maintaining a roof over their children’s heads. This difference in thinking between middle-class and working class women continued during the child guidance movement occurring between 1920 and 1950, as well. The child guidance movement involved clinics that were established for the treatment of problem children as well as the approach used by professionals in ameliorating these problems. For some, the term encompassed all issues that were related to child welfare (Jones, 1999). Jones depicted the middle class professional women working with the low-income families during this time when she wrote “Female experts defined poor mothers as incompetent child care managers and directed their expertise towards establishing the institutional structures necessary to provide these women with professional guidance” (p.108). According to Jones (1999), there were two types of poor mothers identified during the child guidance era. The first type was believed to be negligent in supervising their children often due to the necessity of their employment. These mothers knew what they should be doing to raise their children but were unable to do so. The second type of mother she described as having an “…absence of appreciation for the uniqueness of childhood and for the importance of the parent’s role in sound childrearing” (Jones,

15 p.178). These two types of poor mothers were considered to be entirely different categories, requiring different types of help. Families fitting into the first category needed help finding a mother substitute who could supervise the children and ensure they were safe while their mother was at work. Families falling into the second category required parent education that would be most appropriate for mothers who lacked the knowledge to provide adequate child care. Parent education classes are generally offered for one of two reasons. They are either intended to address a specific problem such as providing help to parents whose children are diagnosed with disorders such as autism and ADHD, or they are intended to be a preventative measure for at-risk families who may have deficient knowledge of normal child development information or impoverished parenting. The mental hygiene movement devoted itself to the second category. This movement began around 1908 as a reaction to the autobiography of Clifford Beers who wrote about his difficult experiences in mental institutions (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2003). According to Pols (2001); “Mental hygienists wanted to expand the domain of psychiatric intervention by including the treatment of behavioral problems in children and psychological problems in adults with social, behavioral, and psychotherapeutic means” (p. 369). Mental hygienists were especially interested in preventing mental illness. During the Depression of the 1930’s, there was a desperate need for preventive mental health measures for children. Special programs that had previously been offered in the public schools were reduced and extreme teacher pay cuts often left teachers with little drive to educate. Anxious parents caused more difficulty for children as well. These circumstances often were responsible for child behaviors symptomatic of a variety of

Full document contains 120 pages
Abstract: Parent education programs have been found to be effective interventions for lower-socioeconomic families. (Baydar, Reid, & Webster-Stratton, 2002). Although research has reliably reported that any parent training is better than no parent training (Helm & Kozloff, 1986), the effectiveness of group parent education programs which emphasize relational improvement is largely unknown. The present study attempted to address this question by comparing archival data collected between the years 1999 and 2004 from two different parent training programs, the Community Parent Education Program (COPE) (Cunningham, Bremner, & Secord-Gilbert, 1994) and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) (Hembree-Kigin, & McNeil, 1995). One hundred eleven parents whose children were registered in a rural Pennsylvania Head Start program completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) (Achenbach, & Rescorla, 2000) and the Parent Practices Scale (PPS) (Strayhorn, & Weidman, 1988), the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) (Robinson, & Eyberg, 1981) tracked play behaviors for parents in the PCIT group. Contrary to the study hypotheses, there were no statistically significant improvements in the PCIT and COPE participants reports of either their child's internalizing or externalizing behaviors or their own parenting behaviors compared with the control group. An examination of differences in clinical vs. nonclinical children also did not reveal pre-or post-testing differences in these children. In addition, the validity of the PPS as a measure of parenting behaviors was unsuccessfully tested against the DPICS rating indicating that the two measures may not be measuring the same construct. Furthermore, a factor analysis of the PPS only accounted for 37% of the variance. The data did result in some interesting findings. A relationship between parents' use of harsh punishment and their positive play behaviors was found such that parents engaging in less use of harsh punishment also engaged in fewer positive play behaviors. It was also found that single parents were more likely to drop out of parenting programs than dual parent families. Limitations to the study include the uneven composition of the groups, the lack of random assignment to the groups, and the self selection of those who chose to participate in the programs.