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Systematic review of recent research on parenting support in the youth justice context


The Youth Justice Board (YJB) for England and Wales has commissioned the Policy Research Bureau (PRB), working together with the Trust for the Study of Adolescence (TSA), to undertake a systematic review of recent research in relation to the provision of support for parents of young people who have offended or who are at risk of offending. The purpose of this review is to update the existing source document and its accompanying Key Element of Effective Practice (KEEP) guidance document on Parenting as part of YJB's Effective Practice Strategy. PRB and TSA worked together to produce the initial source document and KEEP in 2002.

Parenting and parent-child relationships are a source of key risk and protective factors for young people's antisocial behaviour and offending. Since the initial KEEP was written, the provision of parenting support has become more and more mainstream in England and Wales. Policy and practice in this area has developed significantly, as has the academic and evaluation literature on 'what works'. Yet there have been relatively few reviews in recent years that bring the two together in an accessible, UK-relevant and practice-friendly way. The time is, therefore, ripe for a review of the specific evidence on parenting support and its relationship to offending and re-offending, which is the central aim of this project.

What does the research focus on?

For the purposes of systematising key elements of effective practice in parenting interventions we will be exploring outcomes for parents and young people as well as impact on, or relationship with, offending/re-offending; and impact on frequency and severity of offending. In addition, the review will seek to identify the elements of an effective service in relation to the access to and provision of interventions for parents/carers within Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) and the secure estate. The review will provide a summary of interventions categorised in terms of 'what works', 'does not work', 'is promising', or 'unknown'. Our aim is to produce a review that is both academically rigorous, but also accessible and tailored to the applied needs of policy makers and for those working in youth justice settings.

What does the research involve?

The research will be divided into two key phases:
1. Updating and redrafting the source document to include literature and evidence produced since 2002
This phase of the research will involve collation and synthesis of a large body of literature concerning evaluated interventions that provide some form of support to parents. The literature will be assembled by carrying out searches of electronic databases, using specific search terms in addition to following reference trails, and contacting leading players in the field. Key studies will be selected and entered into a grid providing a summary of information about individual interventions. All quantitative studies will be given a quality rating using the Scientific Maryland Scale (SMS) score and for qualitative studies we propose to apply the Global Assessment and Evaluation of Quality (GAEQ), a tool developed by PRB as part of the What Works in Parenting Support study. As part of the analysis of the evidence gathered, conclusions will be drawn about the key features that characterise successful and promising programmes.

2. Producing the KEEP in partnership with TSA
The final stage of the study will involve distilling out the key findings from the source document to inform the KEEP guidance note to be used by youth justice professionals working with young people in community and secure estate settings.

Timescale and final products of the research

The project runs for nine months from November 2006 to July 2007. The main outputs from the project will be a core document, which draws in evidence from both the systematic review and the original source document and a summary guidance note in the form of a KEEP.

Last updated November 2006