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17 November 2015

Jewish Family Service's Triple P rollout delivers outstanding results in San Diego

A creative and dedicated implementation of Triple P has delivered outstanding results in at-risk, low socio-economic, Spanish-speaking communities in San Diego.

Funded by the County of San Diego to promote social and emotional wellness in children, the Jewish Family Service of San Diego’s (JFS) implementation of three levels of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program achieved improvements for most families who participated in the program.


Triple P founder and director of the University of Queensland’s Parenting and Family Support Centre, Professor Matt Sanders, said the evaluation showed just what can be achieved by following good practice in program delivery.


“It shows that quality parent education can benefit all cultures and economic environments,’’ Professor Sanders said. “Parents have a universal need for support and this evaluation shows those needs can be met and that barriers to services can be addressed by dedication and creativity.’’


Seminars paved the way for higher-intensity programs

Director of Positive Parenting for JFS in San Diego, Lea Bush, said Triple P’s mix of light-touch seminars combined with more intensive programs for families with greater needs provided the ideal way for JFS to fulfil its mandate to provide early intervention and prevention support services for families across the targeted population.


“We find that many parents really like the low-barrier, easy-engagement model of Triple P Seminars where there is not too much expectation for interaction or questions,’’ Ms Bush said. “They discover that the seminar is a safe place where they can learn ways to improve their children’s behavior and develop trust and rapport with other members of the preschool or community. We find this makes them more willing to engage in the higher levels of service.’’


The JFS evaluation of their 2013-14 delivery of Triple P Seminars, Individual (Primary Care Triple P) and Group Triple P also found that improvements in families were most pronounced for families with clinically elevated problems.


Improvements in kids’ conduct problems, hyperactivity and pro-social behavior

Of the 249 children evaluated for conduct problems, 56 percent (140 children) improved after their parents participated in Group Triple P, representing a statistically significant, medium effect size.


For children with clinically elevated problems, 74 percent of children with conduct problems (64 children) improved while 63 percent (54 children) moved to the normal range after their parents participated in Group Triple P. Other results for children with clinically elevated problems included:

  • 88 percent (38 of 43 children) with social, emotional and conduct problems improved while 70 percent (30 of 43 children) moved to the normal range.
  • 100 percent (12 children) improved for pro-social behavior while 92 percent (11 of 12 children) moved to the normal range.
  • 88 percent (23 of 26 children) improved for hyperactivity while 81 percent (21 of 26 children) moved to the normal range.

Parents less stressed and depressed

As has been found in clinical trials, parents’ depressive symptoms improved with Triple P.  After Group Triple P, 82 percent (5 of 6) of JFS parents’ self-assessment for depression moved from elevated mild/moderate scores to normal, while 67 percent (4 of 6 adults) who had severe to extremely severe depression moved to the normal range.


Overall, of 241 parents evaluated for stress who participated in Group Triple P, 65 percent (156 adults) showed improved stress levels. This was judged by the evaluation to be a statistically significant, medium effect size.


High parent satisfaction and high retention

JFS used creative measures to attract parents to do a Triple P program and also registered impressive rates for parents completing the programs.


Over 12 months in 2013-2014, at least 2,831 parents (or other adults such as school or child care staff) attended at least one Triple P session. It’s estimated 3,500 children benefitted from the Triple P during that time.  Since 2009, an estimated 10,262 adults in San Diego have done a Triple P course, with about 19,972 children benefitting.


Ms. Bush said JFS went to great lengths to remove any potential barriers to parents attending programs, providing incentives ranging from free babysitting, snacks, laundry soap, transport and children’s books. The JFS evaluation also showed very high rates of parent satisfaction.


“Our parent education staff are really empowered to make relationships directly with the sites they serve, so they get to know the staff, the parents, the teachers and use those relationships to compel attendance by as many parents as possible,’’ Ms. Bush said.


“Most our staff are what we call “para-professional” or “peer-based” staff, hired not because they are highly trained clinicians, but for their ability to connect with the community. This is another hallmark of how we are able to develop rapport.’’


Copies of the report are available upon request from Ms Lea Bush, Director of Positive Parenting at Jewish Family Service of San Diego, (