Briefing paper
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Parents and the family and home environment play a central role in the early learning and development of infants and children. A range of interventions exist to support parents and families, particularly in situations where the family is vulnerable and/or where the infant or child may be at risk of delays in learning or development. The first five years of life present a critical window of opportunity for learning and development and they lay the foundation for learning and readiness for school.

This Evidence Brief focuses on outcomes defined in the Australian Early Development Census, which collects data about key areas of early childhood development (known as ‘domains’). The Emotional maturity domain includes pro-social and helping behaviour, anxious and fearful behaviour, aggressive behaviour, and hyperactivity and inattention (the latter three rarely or never shown in children who are on track in this domain).

The Evidence Brief summarises the findings of a review of systematic reviews. Using this rigorous methodology, the review found strong support for the use of parenting and family support interventions such as The Incredible Years, Triple P, and Behavioural Parent Training in addressing problematic behaviour in children. There was little evidence to suggest that parenting and family support interventions impact children’s feelings and pro-social behaviour. Research suggests parent involvement in interventions, including parent-mediated or delivered interventions and early intensive behavioural interventions, should be encouraged. Benefits appear to be greater for younger rather than older children. There was also evidence that a greater benefit comes from professionals rather than peers or non-professionals as providers of home visiting interventions.

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