The parents who participated in the programme, but also parents not involved in the programme, completed a survey before the first and after the eleventh worskshop. The results showed that upon completion of the programme, the beliefs about the desirable behaviour towards the child changed in favour of the greater appreciation of the child as a person and of the child-rearing practices that foster child's dignity. They also confirmed that the parents felt more efficient in their parental role after the eleventh workshop. In addition, parents reported that they began to engage in more activities that contribute to the development and encouragement of the child than before the first workshop, and in fewer activities that are undesirable for their development. The qualitative data collected from the parents upon completion of the programme reflects their personal growth as parents and also the benefits they thought their children gained from their participation in the workshops.
Parents' statements upon completion of the Growing Up Together programme:
- I am more confident than before that I do certain things well, and less worried about what other people say.
- I realized that I can change for the better by relying on myself, but also on professional help.
- I learned how to refrain from punishing my child.
- I understand now why my child acts in a certain way.
- I realize that I am not the only one who has problems with children.
- I learned many simple ways of making both me and my child happy.
- Now I realize that it is also important to fulfill my own needs.
- These workshops helped me realize that some of my child's acts are not intended to spite me. With my different approach to the problems, my child feels happier and more content.
- Our time together is now more beneficial and more relaxed, which makes them feel more content and loved. We have improved our communication and thus eased the tensions between us.
- The workshops helped me a lot, and the written materials helped my husband.
- I have faced my good and bad sides. Some advice I can readily use as recipes. Some others remain idealistic theory, but can at least serve as information on many ways in which problems can be addressed.
- I did not have high expectations, but I am content. Content and grateful.
- Expectations exceeded. Every parent should attend.
More on the results can be found in the publication at https://www.unicef.hr/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Parenting-Children-w.disabilities-Eng-Jan-2015.pdf
After the initial evaluation of efficacy of the programme and its pilot implementation, the impacts and quality of the programme have been continuously monitored since 2010. The monitoring includes gathering of self-reports on the beliefs, experiences and behaviour from the parents-participants, both prior and after their attendance in the programme. The data collected so far from more than 1,400 parents is congruous with the results obtained in the initial evaluation.
For the purpose of pre-evaluation at the beginning of the programme, parents were asked to list the questions which made them decide to join the programme. Among the most common were the following: How to be a better parent? How to enhance the relationship with the child? How to set boundaries? How to deal with the child's stubbornness? How to cope with the child's outbursts of anger? How to enforce authority and instill obedience? How to understand the child's needs? How to strengthen the child's self-confidence? How to react when...? Upon completion of the programme, it turned out that nine out of ten parents responded that they got answers to all or most of their questions.
In addition to the feedback on the programme that the parents provided immediately after its completion, they provided another report four to six moths later. This post-evaluation report received from some 200 parents indicated that the majority of parents proceeded with the changes reported at the end of the progamme, while some others stated that they could use further support from other parents and leaders.
- The changes I adopted are here to stay, there is no going back to the old!
- Well, things are mostly better than before, it's a bit easier.
- I've been trying hard to be more patient and focus more on the things we can do together, the activities that are both fun and rewarding.
- I have learned something that I did not know before and this helped me to understand my children better …
- In hindsight, I think that I benefited from the workshops in many ways: I got new insights, encouragement that I am on a good track, guidelines for improvement... These are all long-term benefits.
- I got there just in time.
The results of a comprehensive external evaluation conducted in 2016 by an independent team of experts have shown that the programs "Growing up Together" and "Growing up Together Plus" are:
highly relevant for the needs of parents (including parents of children with disabilities) and professionals
effective in achieving desirable changes in parental knowledge and skills, as well as in the knowledge and skills of group leaders
have long-term positive impact on the relations between parents and children, and between parents and parents.
It is recommended to improve their sustainability.
Formative Evaluation of Government of Croatia and UNICEF’s Parenting Support Programmes ‘Growing up Together’ and ‘Growing up Together Plus’