Introduction: Parent education has a positive impact on children, parents, families, and the community. CHILDREN AT RISK and Bracewell & Giuliani LLP conducted a policy scan of state statutes regarding parent education.

Methodology: To identify state statutes that address parent education, we conducted a search of statutes in all 50 states using keywords and the online legal research systems. After all state-level policies were ascertained, we selected the most relevant statutes to parent education and identified major themes.

Results: The policy scan identified statutes regarding non-mandated parent education in 40 out of the 50 states. Common themes include: home visitation programs, funding through a Children’s Trust Fund, early childhood initiatives, use of evidence-based programs, and a community-based component to the parent education statute.

Discussion: In a needs assessment of parent education in Houston, Texas, stigma and funding were identified as the biggest barriers to increasing the availability of parent education. Funding was addressed in a few state policies, but stigma was not addressed. While parent support programs have many demonstrated positive effects, the effect of the various mandated parent support strategies remains unproven.

Conclusion: While most states have statutes regarding parent education, more evaluation and research is needed on how these policies are implemented and their measured impact on families in the state.

Key Take Away Points

  • Most states have statutes on non-mandated parent education.
  • The content of state statutes varies widely between states.
  • Common themes in state statutes that address parent education include: home visitation programs, funding through a Children’s Trust Fund, early childhood initiatives, use of evidence-based programs, and a community-based component.
  • More research is needed to understand how these statutes are being implemented and the impact.

Author Biography

Nancy Correa, MPH, is the Director of the Center for Parenting and Family Well-Being at CHILDREN AT RISK. In this role, she leads an effort to prevent child abuse and promote parent education in collaboration with other organizations through systems change. Nancy received her Master’s degree in Public Health from Boston University School of Public Health and her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Policy Studies from Rice University. Nancy’s interests include child abuse prevention, coalition-building, evaluation, and health promotion. Prior to working at CHILDREN AT RISK, Nancy worked as a research and evaluation consultant in Boston, MA. She also formed a nonprofit organization to prevent childhood obesity in the Houston community.

Bethanie Van Horne, DrPH, joined CHILDREN AT RISK in January 2013 as the Assistant Director of Research and Evaluation. Her main role is to lead the research and evaluation activities for the Center for Parenting and Family Well-Being. Beth graduated with a BBA in Management Information Systems from the University of Notre Dame in 2002, received her MPH in International and Family Health in 2006, and completed her DrPH in Community Health Practice in 2014 from The University of Texas School of Public Health. For the last decade, Beth has worked in the maternal and child health arena in various capacities, from providing foster care to abused, neglected or HIV effected children to evaluating school- and home-based interventions for parents and teachers. Beth’s interests include: child abuse prevention, parenting, children with special health care needs, community-based participatory research, and utilizing and linking existing administrative data.

Christopher Greeley, MD, FAAP, currently serves as a Professor of Pediatrics in the Center for Clinical Research and Evidence-Based Medicine at University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston. He is board certified in pediatrics as well as Child Abuse Pediatrics, and is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a member of the AAP Section on Child Abuse and Neglect and Section on International Child Health. His main clinical interests are in International Child Health, Child Abuse and Neglect and vulnerable populations. Dr. Greeley recently received a large and very competitive National Institute of Health grant for the study of a child abuse prevention strategy in young families. He was also appointed by Lt. Governor Dewhurst to the Texas Statewide Blue Ribbon Task Force for child abuse prevention and child wellbeing, which he chairs. Dr. Greeley was also the 2006 Ray E Helfer Award winner. The Ray E Helfer Award is an annual award jointly presented by The American Academy of Pediatrics and The National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds “to a distinguished pediatrician for his or her contribution to the prevention of child abuse and neglect.”

Angelo P. Giardino, MD, PhD is the Vice President/Chief Medical Officer of Texas Children’s Health Plan, Chief Quality Officer for Medicine at Texas Children’s Hospital, professor and chief of Academic General Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Adjunct Professor in the Schools of Nursing and of Public Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and, an attending physician on the Texas Children’s Hospital Child Protection Team. He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and Child Abuse. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and a member of the Academic Pediatrics Association and Texas Pediatric Society where he is chair-emeritus of the Children with Disabilities Committee and serves on the Child Abuse and Neglect Committee. His academic accomplishments include publishing several textbooks on child abuse and neglect, presenting on a variety of pediatric topics at national and regional conferences, and serving on several national boards including the Board of Directors for Prevent Child Abuse America, the National Advisory Board of the Institute for Safe Families and the Advisory Board for Justice for Children. In 2013, Dr. Giardino was awarded the Health Care Advocacy Award from Doctors for Change, a Houston based organization of health care professionals working to promote access to, and equity in, the health care system.