CSUN professor gets $1.2 million grant to help improve parenting skills

A professor of CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has been awarded a grant of just under $1.2 million for a program to help mothers and fathers improve their parenting skills.

The grant was given to Susan Love by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help her create an interactive online community for parents, based on the Triple P Positive Parenting Program developed in Australia by Matt Sanders, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland.

Both Sanders and CSUN social work professor Theresa Knott will work with Love to develop the program.

Triple P is a “multi-level, parenting and family support strategy that aims to prevent behavioral, emotional and developmental problems in children by enhancing the knowledge, skills and confidence of parents,” according to the program’s website.

Love has been a social worker for three decades and has long been concerned about underrepresented families in the community. Government funding goes into disciplinary programs rather than prevention programs, which does not serve the community well, she said.

“We don’t do public health in the United States.  Even if we know what works—which we do— help doesn’t make it to vulnerable families,” Love said. “We put our money into catch and release programs instead of support programs.”

Love described stigmatized parents as those who are blamed when their children misbehave, which fosters feelings of blame and shame. Stigmatized parents are less likely to seek help and are the most likely to drop out of assistance programs, Love said.

Love aims to help these parents with her community website.  She has partnered with Shields for Families and the Children’s Bureau, agencies that will refer who have sought for helps to the Triple P program.

One of the advantages of the online program is that it is more accessible to parents, whether they are at home, at the library, or on their phone, Love said.

The program is not designed for long-term support, but rather will be broken up into several interactive modules, which Love said will take parents a total of eight hours to complete.

The modules will provide information, learning activities, advice and support to help parents become independent problem solvers and create more nurturing and loving environments for their children.

The program will use rewards, such as stickers, badges and awards, to keep parents engaged and encourage them to finish all of the modules.

The test period is scheduled for 30 months, after which Love and her research team will evaluate the efficacy of the program.

“We’ll be using standardized instruments, which will test parent’s confidence and mental health, including anxiety and depression,” Love said.

The research team will also conduct focus groups to elicit the opinions of participating parents about the program.

Love said the Triple P Program works and is hopeful that her study will yield positive results.

“Let me put it this way,” Love said, “Triple P is being used in 24 countries, is translated into 18 languages, has over 62,000 practitioners, and has helped seven million children.”