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CANparent Trial Evaluation

CEDAR, the University of Warwick, is leading on the evaluation of the CANparent Trial. The evaluation is a combined methods evaluation, drawing upon the expertise of number of acknowledged leaders in parenting research and evaluation in a strong collaborative partnership.

The team:

In addition to CEDAR, the evaluation team includes the TNS-BMRB Education Policy Group, Bryson Purdon Social Research, and London Economics. The team has extensive experience in both qualitative and quantitative methods and policy expertise in parenting research. CEDAR’s previous research for the Department for Education (2006-11) has included the Parenting Early Intervention Programme (PEIP) which was the largest effectiveness study of evidence-based parenting programmes in the UK; and Jane Barlow (Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick) has undertaken reviews for Cochrane and NICE which involved evidence of parenting programmes from efficacy trials. In addition, TNS-BRMB has been responsible for conducting some of the largest surveys of parents in the UK (National Survey of Parents and Children, the National Parental Opinion Survey).

The evaluation:


This is a complex, combined methods evaluation. The main aim is to evaluate whether or not the free provision of parenting classes in the three areas will provide sufficient incentive to providers to start offering additional universal classes nationally, including for parents with children aged 6 and older, and will normalise and de-stigmatise the take-up of the universal parenting classes.

The evaluation is organised into three strands:

Strand 1:

  • Longitudinal case studies in three phases. Phase 1: interviews with providers, ECORYS, Parenting UK, and local parenting commissioners. Phase 2: Second interviews with Phase 1 interviewees and focus groups with voucher distributors. Phase 3: Third interviews with Phase 1 and 2 interviewees. Focus groups with voucher distributors
  • Running alongside, there is desk research comprising analysis of outputs from class providers and voucher distributors, analysis of existing statistics and data on the three trial areas, and literature review, including international evidence, of similar state pump-priming of a market for a social good

Strand 2:

  • A Penetration Survey of 1500 parents in trial areas to measure the extent to which vouchers reach parents, also capturing socio-economic status of families surveyed - through face to face interviews with randomly selected parents; at the same time, a baseline survey of 1500 parents in comparison areas
  • A Second Penetration Survey through face to face interviews with a cross-section of parents of 0-5s in trial (1500 parents) and comparison areas (1500 parents) selected by random probability sampling to generate final figures on take-up of classes and normalisation (de-stigmatisation) of classes
  • An ongoing Participating Parent Survey with class attendees in the three voucher areas to establish their experiences of the classes and their self-perceptions of impact on their parenting skills and confidence. Parents attending a random sample of parenting classes will complete both pre-class and post-class standardised questionnaires measuring parent mental well-being, parent satisfaction, confidence and sense of efficacy as a parent, and aspects of their child’s behaviour
  • About 90-100 interviews (one to one and focus groups) with parents, focusing on those who start a class but then drop out, those who complete a class, and on fathers
  • A very short online satisfaction survey of all participants in the three voucher areas.

Strand 3:

  • Cost effectiveness study: analysis of Strand 1 and Strand 2 outputs, outcomes, and of management data providing cost effectiveness indicators of different classes and of different voucher options and voucher distribution systems. Also includes a Willingness to Pay analysis using contingent valuation to understand the extent to which parents might pay for classes in the absence of free vouchers.

The interim findings of the trial were published in the 1st Interim Report (PDF Document) and a 2nd Interim Report (PDF Document) which can be found on the DfE website.

Final Report - January 2016 (PDF Document)

Final Report Research Brief - January 2016(PDF Document)