Back to the Annual Report

Building a Strong Foundation

Child development experts tell us that the first years of life matter because early experiences affect the architecture of the maturing brain. For healthy development, children need nurturing relationships with caregivers.

The Incredible Years is an evidence-based parenting program designed to help build that strong foundation. The curriculum focuses on five protective factors: parental resilience, social connections, concrete support in times of need, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social/emotional competence of children. Research shows that when those protective factors are present, the likelihood of abuse and neglect decreases, and positive child and youth development occurs.

The Duke Endowment, the N.C. Division of Social Services and the N.C. Partnership for Children fund the program in North Carolina as part of a commitment to implementing evidence-based programs that increase child and family resilience and reduce abuse and neglect. Multiple randomized trials over the past 25 years support The Incredible Years as an effective program.

The Endowment’s funding goes to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, which provides implementation support to 26 sites that cover 44 of the state’s 100 counties.

In 2018, a year-end evaluation of the nearly 1,000 participants showed that 76 percent reported a decrease in harsh discipline; 71 percent reported a decrease in inconsistent discipline; 68 percent reported an increase in appropriate discipline; 77 percent reported an increase in positive parenting; and 72 percent reported a decrease in the intensity of problem behaviors.

“Creating safe, stable and nurturing environments for children and supporting families is essential to preventing child abuse,” says Sharon Hirsch, president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. “Years of research show us that The Incredible Years helps build stronger families and gives children the strong start they need.”