Parents Anonymous®

Mental Health Substance Use Prevention or Treatment In-home Parent Skill-Based Supported

Parents Anonymous® seeks to enhance family functioning and parent/caregiver resilience to prevent and treat child maltreatment by offering groups for parents/caregivers and their children/youth. Groups are guided by four core principles and therapeutic processes: mutual support, parent leadership, shared leadership®, and personal growth and change. Groups are also linked to six additional strength-based goals: (1) increasing protective factors and reducing risk factors, (2) improving family functioning, (3) mitigating the impact of and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), (4) preventing and intervening in substance use disorders, (5) preventing and intervening in domestic violence, and (6) enhancing the physical and mental health of parents/caregivers. Both adult and children/youth groups aim to provide safe and caring environments created through trauma-informed practices.

 

Each adult group appoints a Parent Group Leader who co-leads the group with the Group Facilitator. Together, they encourage parents/caregivers to share responsibility for planning and operating the group. In the adult group, parents/caregivers support each other and discuss parenting strategies. Each children/youth group is also led by a Group Facilitator. In the children/youth groups, children and youth (separated developmentally) learn to manage their emotions, change their attitudes and behaviors, and strengthen their relationships with their families through structured activities based on 12 monthly themes. Older youth also participate in group discussions designed to address age-relevant topics such as substance use, impulse control, gang involvement, and organizational skills.

 

In addition to the group sessions, Parents Anonymous encourages families to utilize the National Parent Helpline® for emotional support and provides supportive services including linking families to community resources.


Parents Anonymous® is rated as a supported practice because at least one study carried out in a usual care or practice setting achieved a rating of moderate or high on design and execution and demonstrated a sustained favorable effect of at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment on at least one target outcome.


Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed: Aug 2021


Sources

The program or service description, target population, and program or service delivery and implementation information was informed by the following sources: the program or service manuals, the program or service developer’s website, the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare, and the studies reviewed.


This information does not necessarily represent the views of the program or service developers. For more information on how this program or service was reviewed, visit the Review Process page or download the Handbook.

Target Population

Parents Anonymous is designed for families with children/youth (birth-18) experiencing difficulties related to mental health, substance use disorders, or challenging life situations. It also focuses on families who may be at risk for involvement with the child welfare system or who are already involved. The program serves anyone in a parenting/caregiving role who is seeking support with parenting strategies.

Dosage

Parents Anonymous is designed to serve parents/caregivers and their children/youth through weekly 2-hour support groups. Groups are held separately for parents/caregivers and children/youth (separated developmentally) but occur at the same time and location. Parents/Caregivers can join a group at any time and attend for as many weeks as they like. Children/youth may only attend if their parents/caregivers participate in the adult group.

Location/Delivery Setting
Recommended Locations/Delivery Settings

Parents Anonymous can be delivered in a variety of settings, including local community centers, family resource centers, churches, schools, early childhood centers, Head Start, shelters, mental health centers, drug and alcohol agencies, military installations, and prisons.

Location/Delivery Settings Observed in the Research

  • Nonprofit or government agencies

Education, Certifications and Training

Group Facilitators should have a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in social work, psychology, early childhood education, or other behavioral science field. Group  Facilitators should also have experience with and expertise in providing primary prevention and family strengthening programs to diverse populations. Each adult group appoints a Parent Group Leader who co-leads the group with the Group Facilitator. There are no educational requirements for the Parent Group Leader.

 

To become certified, Group Facilitators and Parent Group Leaders must attend a 40-hour in-person training delivered by Parents Anonymous® Inc. Group Facilitators also shadow two to four adult groups and at least one children/youth group. Parent Group Leaders also develop an Individual Action Plan and participate in virtual guided practice sessions for 4 to 6 months after the in-person training.

Program or Service Documentation
Book/Manual/Available documentation used for review

The Parents Anonymous® Inc. Operations Manual is implemented in conjunction with the best practices manuals for group facilitators.

Parents Anonymous® Inc. (2018). Parents Anonymous® Inc.: Operations manual.

Parents Anonymous® Inc. (2018). Ensuring evidence-based Parents Anonymous®: The best practices manual for Parents Anonymous® adult group facilitators and parent group leaders.

Parents Anonymous® Inc. (2018). Ensuring evidence-based Parents Anonymous®: The best practices manual for Parents Anonymous® children & youth group facilitators.

Available languages

The manuals for Parents Anonymous are available in English. Parent resources are available in English and Spanish.

Other supporting materials

Program Materials

Adult Group Information

National Certification Information for Parent Leaders

Contact Information for Developers

Website: https://parentsanonymous.org

Phone: (909) 575-4211

Email: info@parentsanonymous.org

 

Results of Search and Review Number of Studies Identified and Reviewed for Parents Anonymous®
Identified in Search 11
Eligible for Review 1
Rated High 0
Rated Moderate 1
Rated Low 0
Reviewed Only for Risk of Harm 0
Outcome Effect Size Effect Size more info
and Implied Percentile Effect Implied Percentile Effect more info
N of Studies (Findings) N of Participants Summary of Findings
Child safety: Child welfare administrative reports 0.36
13
1 (6) 428 Favorable: 2
No Effect: 4
Unfavorable: 0
Child permanency: Out-of-home placement -0.16
-6
1 (2) 428 Favorable: 0
No Effect: 2
Unfavorable: 0

Note: For the effect sizes and implied percentile effects reported in the table, a positive number favors the intervention group and a negative number favors the comparison group.

Outcome Effect Size Effect Size more info
and Implied Percentile Effect Implied Percentile Effect more info
N of Studies (Findings) N of Participants Summary of Findings Months after treatment
when outcome measured
Months after treatment when outcome measured more info
Child safety: Child welfare administrative reports 0.36
13
1 (6) 428 Favorable: 2
No Effect: 4
Unfavorable: 0
-
Burnson, 2021
Maltreatment Referrals 0.27
10
- 428 - 6
Maltreatment Referrals 0.24 *
9
- 428 - 12
Child Welfare Investigations 0.23
8
- 428 - 6
Child Welfare Investigations 0.21
8
- 428 - 12
Substantiated Maltreatment Allegations 0.59
22
- 428 - 6
Substantiated Maltreatment Allegations 0.60 *
22
- 428 - 12
Child permanency: Out-of-home placement -0.16
-6
1 (2) 428 Favorable: 0
No Effect: 2
Unfavorable: 0
-
Burnson, 2021
Child Removals -0.22
-8
- 428 - 6
Child Removals -0.10
-3
- 428 - 12

*p <.05

Note: For the effect sizes and implied percentile effects reported in the table, a positive number favors the intervention group and a negative number favors the comparison group. Effect sizes and implied percentile effects were calculated by the Prevention Services Clearinghouse as described in the Handbook of Standards and Procedures, Section 5.10.4 and may not align with effect sizes reported in individual publications.

Only publications with eligible contrasts that met design and execution standards are included in the individual study findings table.

Full citations for the studies shown in the table are available in the "Studies Reviewed" section.

Sometimes study results are reported in more than one document, or a single document reports results from multiple studies. Studies are identified below by their Prevention Services Clearinghouse study identification numbers.

Studies Rated Moderate

Study 11425

Burnson, C., Covington, S., Arvizo, B., Qiao, J., & Harris, E. (2021). The impact of Parents Anonymous on child safety and permanency. Children and Youth Services Review, 124, 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2021.105973




Studies Not Eligible for Review

Study 11415

Kelley, M. L., Grace, N., & Elliott, S. N. (1990). Acceptability of positive and punitive discipline methods: Comparisons among abusive, potentially abusive, and nonabusive parents. Child Abuse & Neglect, 14(2), 219-226. https://doi.org/10.1016/0145-2134(90)90032-o

This study is ineligible for review because it does not report program or service impacts on an eligible target outcome (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.5).

Study 11416

Polinsky, M. L., Pion-Berlin, L., Williams, S., Long, T., & Wolf, A. M. (2010). Preventing child abuse and neglect: A national evaluation of Parents Anonymous groups. Child Welfare, 89(6), 43-62. https://parentsanonymous.org/assets/Child-Welfare-2010.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11417

Polinsky, M. L., Pion-Berlin, L., Long, T., & Wolf, A. M. (2011). Parents Anonymous outcome evaluation: Promising findings for child maltreatment reduction. Journal of Juvenile Justice, 1(1), 33-47. http://parentsanonymous.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/JournalofJuvenileJusticeVolume1Issue1Fall2011.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11418

Ainsworth, A. (2019). Effectively preventing and treating child abuse and neglect by strengthening families: Evaluation brief 2016-2019. Center for Assessment, Research & Evaluation, California State University Northridge. https://parentsanonymous.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/2019ParentsAnonymous_EvaluationBrief_Final.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11419

Polinsky, M. L., Levine, M. H., Pion-Berlin, L., Torres, A., & Garibay, J. (2013). Development and validation of a wraparound parent partner fidelity tool. Social Work Research, 37(2), 111–120. https://doi.org/10.1093/swr/svt014

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11420

National Council on Crime and Delinquency. (2007). Outcome evaluation of Parents Anonymous®. https://parentsanonymous.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PANCCDOutcomeEvaluationFinalReport-July30-2007.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11422

Pion-Berlin, L., Williams, S., Polinsky, M. L., Pickens, D. (2011). Parents Anonymous® evidence supports the strengthening families approach. Research Profile, 3. https://parentsanonymous.org/assets/Strengthening-Families-2011.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11423

Polinsky, M. L., Pion-Berlin, L. (2001). Research on parent leadership: Significance and findings. Research Profile, 2. https://parentsanonymous.org/assets/Research-on-Parent-Leadership-2001.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).

Study 11424

Anthony, E. K., Berrick, J. D., Cohen, E., & Wilder, E. (2009). Partnering with parents: Promising approaches to improve reunification outcomes for children in foster care. Center for Social Services Research, School of Social Welfare, University of California at Berkeley. https://parentsanonymous.org/assets/Final_Report_UC_Berkeley_2009_Evaluation_of_Contra_Costa_Parent_Parners.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it is not a study of the program or service under review (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.6).

Study 11426

National Council on Crime and Delinquency. (2002). Process evaluation of Parents Anonymous®. https://www.evidentchange.org/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/evaluation-parents-anonymous.pdf

This study is ineligible for review because it does not use an eligible study design (Study Eligibility Criterion 4.1.4).