Enhancing Parent Engagement and Program Completion in a Home Visiting Parenting Intervention Through the Use of Cellular Phones

  • Kathryn M. Bigelow University of Kansas
  • Jennifer B. Lefever University of Notre Dame
  • Judith J. Carta University of Kansas
  • John G. Borkowski University of Notre Dame


We examined factors that predict parent engagement and intervention completion in a home visiting parenting intervention. In this randomized trial, we compared the effectiveness of a parenting intervention to a cellular phone enhanced parenting intervention for preventing child maltreatment and promoting positive parenting. We randomly assigned 219 mother-child dyads, most of whom were enrolled in Head Start programs to a 5-session home visitation intervention (Planned Activities Training-PAT) or to cellular phone enhanced PAT (CPAT). We found that (1) early parent engagement predicted completion of the parenting intervention, (2) parents in the cellular phone enhanced PAT were twice as likely to complete the intervention than those in traditional PAT, and (3) the quality of parenting prior to entrance in either intervention predicted parent engagement. The implications of this study focus on the importance of early identification of parents who are higher-risk for drop-out in order to provide them additional supports to promote retention.

Research-to-Practice Summaries