Impact evaluation of the Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting Programme (PDEP)

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The Positive Discipline in Everyday Parenting (PDEP) is a parent support programme aimed at eliminating parents’ use of physical and humiliating punishment. It provides parents with a framework for understanding, and responding constructively to, parent-child conflict. By increasing parents’ knowledge of child development, their skills in scaffolding children’s learning, and their empathy with children’s emotions, it is expected that PDEP will lead to a significant reduction in punishment and a significant increase in parenting behaviours that promote children’s healthy development. It is a universal violence prevention programme and the target group is parents, rather than children, with the aim of shifting parents’ thinking so that they reduce their use of physical and humiliating punishment and increase their use of problem-solving methods that promote children’s healthy development.

The purpose of this assignment was to conduct an impact evaluation of PDEP, using the 2017 round of PDEP implementation in Kosovo as an example. The evaluation’s purposes were to:

  • Gain a better understanding of what behavioural changes the programme brings about and what factors affect the outcomes of the programme;
  • Contribute to Save the Children Sweden’s broader learning process on PDEP, on what works, how and under what circumstances; and
  • Develop a better understanding of the costs of the intervention in relation to the results achieved.

The evaluation design was explicitly theory based and aimed at examining whether the evidence supported PDEP’s theory in terms of whether the presence of the short- and medium-term outcomes (greater awareness and knowledge and changes in attitudes and the behaviour of care-givers) specified in the theory led to the presence of the long-term outcomes (children's wellbeing). The evaluation used in-depth interviews with parents and children as the main data collection instrument. Data was analysed using Qualitative Comparative Analysis in order to identify the key factors that  explain performance.

The evaluation concluded that the programme works in terms of supporting children's wellbeing. It also works when considering care-giver behaviour. The programme is less successful in terms of delivering enhanced care-giver wellbeing, but this is not considered to be the main intended impact of the programme. As such, the evaluation provides proof of concept based on empirical evidence for the efficacy of the PDEP programme and demonstrates the key strength of the PDEP programme. In terms of key explanatory factors, the increase in the degree to which the programme enhances a care-giver’s practice of positive discipline and a child’s wellbeing appears to be contingent on: (i) whether the main care-givers  agree on the parenting style; and (ii) the degree to which participants have support networks with whom to discuss parenting after completion of the programme.

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