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Engaging Families in Early Intervention for Child Conduct Concerns

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2015

Debbie Plath*
PhD, Researcher, Debbie Plath Consulting, Australia
Penny Crofts
BSW, MSW, Director of the Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle, Australia
Graeme Stuart
PhD, Lecturer, Family Action Centre, The University of Newcastle, Australia
address for correspondence: Debbie Plath, Debbie Plath Consulting,, 20 The Terrace, The Hill, 2300


Early intervention programs assist families to deal with emerging child behavioural difficulties that are likely to worsen over time. Identifying families suited to an early intervention program and then generating their interest in the program can be an uncertain and complex process. This paper describes the approach to family engagement in a school-based early intervention program for children with emerging conduct problems, called Got It!, and presents some of the findings from an external evaluation of the program conducted by the authors for New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of Health. Child behaviour screening questionnaires were completed by parents/carers and teachers, and qualitative data were gathered through interviews with parents/carers, teachers and health staff. The views of families who participated in the targeted intervention and those who were exposed only to the universal intervention were sought. Results indicate that offering the specialised group intervention in the school, in the context of universal interventions and screening, supported engagement with families of children with identified conduct problems. Many parents said they would not otherwise have sought assistance. A partnership approach between schools and specialist child and adolescent mental health services is a central feature of program delivery. Factors that contribute to an effective partnership are discussed.

Copyright © The Author(s) 2015 

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