Behavioral Economics and Parent Participation in an Evidence-Based Parenting Program at Scale

Zoelene Hill, Michelle Spiegel, Lisa Gennetian, Kai Ama Hamer, Laurie Brotman, Spring Dawson-McClure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence-based and culturally relevant parenting programs strengthen adults’ capacity to support children’s health and development. Optimizing parent participation in programs implemented at scale is a prevailing challenge. Our collaborative team of program developers, implementers, and researchers applied insights from the field of behavioral economics (BE) to support parent participation in ParentCorps—a family-centered program delivered as an enhancement to pre-kindergarten—as it scaled in a large urban school district. We designed a bundle of BE-infused parent outreach materials and successfully showed their feasibility in site-level randomized pilot implementation. The site-level study did not show a statistically significant impact on family attendance. A sub-study with a family-level randomization design showed that varying the delivery time of BE-infused digital outreach significantly increased the likelihood of families attending the parenting program. Lessons on the potential value of a BE-infused approach to support outreach and engagement in parenting programs are discussed in the context of scaling up efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)891-902
Number of pages12
JournalPrevention Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • BE
  • Low-income
  • Parent engagement
  • Parenting program
  • Text messaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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