Independent research published in 2013 after three years studying families showed that children whose parents have had the support of a Home-Start volunteer have a better start in life than those who don’t.

The three-year research project, by Jo Hermanns and others at the Universities of Amsterdam and Uttrecht,* also reveals that children are still benefiting up to three years after their Home-Start volunteer has stopped visiting.

“This research gives robust academic credence to what we and many thousands of parents have intuitively known for the last 40 years – that the support of a volunteer parent while you are struggling to bring up a young family is good for you and good for your children.  It gives them a better start in life.”

Dr Elizabeth Young, director of research, evaluation and policy at Home-Start UK

Researchers compared three groups of parents. In the first, each family had Home-Start support. In the two control groups, there was no volunteer support. One of these control groups was a randomly selected community sample of parents and the other a group of parents with “elevated parenting stress and need for support”.

The study showed parents in the Home-Start group had more positive changes in parental wellbeing, competence and behaviour: they parented more consistently and there was less rejection of their children. At the three-year follow-up, the Home-Start group showed more improvements than the control groups:  more responsive parenting, and children showing less temper and anger issues and less anxiety (“child externalizing and internalising behaviour problems”).

* Full title of the research:  ’Long term changes in parenting and child behaviour after the Home-Start family support program’ Jo M. A. Hermanns, Jessica J Ascher, Bonne J. H. Zijlstra, Peter J. Hoffenaar, Majaa Dekovic.  The University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Report extract and method of buying full research.

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