Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program overview

  • Training programs to minimize children’s behavioral challenges: The Incredible Years is a series of early intervention programs for young children (ages 3-8), parents, and teachers. The child program supports children’s academic, social, and emotional development, with the aim of reducing the prevalence of behavioral and conduct issues; the parent and teacher programs help parents and teachers develop skills to support positive development and behavioral change in children. There is strong evidence that the Incredible Years programs improve parenting, classroom management, and child behavior.

  • Supporting children’s social-emotional development: The Incredible Years child program is a social-emotional learning intervention. It covers topics including, detecting and understanding feelings, making friends, and learning school rules, among others. The program may be delivered in small groups or to entire classrooms, with the former format consisting of 18-20 two-hour sessions, and the latter involving shorter, weekly lessons throughout the school year.

  • Parents develop skills in interacting with their children: The Incredible Years parent program is delivered to groups of parents whose children are of similar age. Parents learn about and develop skills related to child-directed play, coaching children through academics and emphasizing persistence, using effective praise and incentives, setting up predictable routines and rules and effective limit-setting, handling misbehavior with proactive discipline, and teaching children how to problem solve. Typically, parents participate in between 9-20 sessions across several months, with the number varying based on their child’s age.

  • Teachers learn how to more effectively manage classrooms: The Incredible Years teacher training prepares teachers to implement strategies to improve students’ behavior in the classroom. These strategies include praise and encouragement, incentives, proactive classroom management, redirection for challenging behaviors, relationship-building, and social-emotional learning. The training is typically offered during 4-6 day-long training sessions over an academic year.

  • Led by trained facilitators: The Incredible Years programs are typically implemented by school districts or youth-focused community-based organizations. These organizations hire facilitators who are then trained by Incredible Years staff. Facilitators deliver content through lectures and videos provided as part of the curriculum. Facilitators also emphasize group discussion, problem-solving, and sharing of ideas among participants.

Cost per Participant
$425 to $1,970 per training program

Multiple studies with rigorous designs demonstrate that The Incredible Years is a well-supported strategy for improving child behavior, improving parenting, and improving classroom management.

Note: This content is under review.

  • Select highly-qualified group facilitators: Facilitators are essential to the effective implementation of the training programs. They should have strong facilitation skills for groups of adults or children (depending on the audience), experience working with young people, and a background in child development and social learning theory. These characteristics better position facilitators to support parents, teachers, and children throughout training sessions, particularly given the interactive and discussion-based nature of the Incredible Years curriculum.

  • Utilize collaborative plans to connect strategies between home and classroom: The Incredible Years engages both parents and teachers, as creating consistency in behavioral expectations across home and school can more effectively change child behavior. Implementing organizations should assist teachers and parents in collaboratively establishing plans that allow them to explicitly align on expectations and strategies for individual children. They should also create transition plans to pass on information to a student’s future teachers to ensure continuity between school years.

  • Support full program completion for participants: Since the Incredible Years intervention consists of multiple training sessions, it is important for parents, teachers, and students to attend all of them to receive the full program dosage. Sessions should be scheduled at times and locations that are easily accessible for participants. In addition, organizations offering the programming should provide supports to encourage attendance, such as providing childcare for parents or snacks for children.

  • Incorporate home visits for families with increased need: The Incredible Years interventions have demonstrated success when coupled with supplemental home visits for families whose children have more serious behavioral challenges or parents who need more coaching support. This additional layer of support is a valuable way to differentiate the program based on different families’ level of need and the appropriate intervention intensity.