eNew Beginnings Program for Divorced and Separated Families: An Evidence-Based Parenting Program that Improved Children’s Behavior Problems
The eNew Beginnings Program (eNBP) is a brief, asynchronous, completely online parenting-after-divorce program that reduces children’s behavior problems. This highly interactive program teaches parents skills to improve positive parent-child relationships and effective discipline and decrease interparental conflict.
Its effectiveness was tested in a randomized controlled trial that included 131 parents who were randomly given access to the program or assigned to a waitlist. Parents and children reported that the program improved parent-child relationship quality and reduced children’s behavior problems. Both parents and children also reported reductions in the amount of conflict between the parents. Because children were not involved in the program, their reports of improvements increase confidence in the findings.
Parents were very satisfied with the program. The majority felt that it was helpful to their relationships with their children and themselves. And over 80% of the parents said that family courts should recommend that divorced or separated parents complete the eNBP. The program can be used on a smartphone, tablet, or computer and there are separate versions for fathers and mothers. The program is available in two formats, a 6-week program, and a 10-week program. Parents complete one unit a week. The 6-week program can be completed in 3 hours and the 10-week program can be completed in 5 hours. The same material is included in both formats; the 10-week program allows parents more practice and provides them with more feedback about the skills.
The eNBP was adapted from the New Beginnings Program (NBP), an 11-session in-person program designed to promote effective parenting following divorce. This program has been rigorously evaluated in three randomized experimental trials funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. These trials demonstrated that the NBP improved parenting and reduced children’s mental health problems up to six and fifteen years later. At the 6-year follow-up, adolescents whose parents participated in the NBP had a 37% lower rate of diagnosed mental disorders, lower levels of mental health problems, and less use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. They also had higher levels of self-esteem and higher grades; 35% more of the adolescents whose parents were in the NBP had an A or B average than did those in the control condition. At the 15-year follow-up, which occurred in young adulthood, those in the NBP reported less substance use, cigarette smoking, time in jail, and use of services for psychological problems. Also, there was a 69% reduction in developing a mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety. The program led to improvements in competencies, including greater self-regulation, self-esteem, work functioning, and positive attitudes toward parenting. Cost-benefit analysis showed a $1,600 savings per family in terms of reduced involvement in the criminal justice system and use of mental health services for those in the NBP as compared to those in the control condition.
Evaluations of the NBP and eNBP have been published in multiple scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Family Court Review, and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The program has been recognized by multiple registries of evidence-based programs, including the Registry of Evidence-based Programs- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development, Early Intervention Foundation Guidebook for Commissioners in the United Kingdom, California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, and Scotland’s Early Intervention Framework for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing.