Purpose: To compare the characteristics of parents and children recruited for two randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) of parenting support in disadvantaged communities in Wales in order to explore the effects of community-based vs individual-based targeting in early prevention.
Design/methodology/approach: Parents from high-risk disadvantaged communities in Wales, where additional early intervention services were targeted as part of a Welsh Government early intervention strategy, were recruited to two RCTs of parenting interventions. In the first study parents of targeted three- and four-year-old children, who were screened, and deemed at risk of long-term problems, were recruited from Sure Start (SS) areas in Wales. In the second study parents of one- and two-year-old children living in disadvantaged Flying Start (FS) areas were recruited, with residence within the FS area being the only recruitment criterion.
Findings: FS areas are more strategically targeted as communities with a greater percentage of families with high levels of socio-economic disadvantage and associated risk than SS areas. Families in the toddler parenting trial based in FS areas, recruited without any additional screening, were experiencing higher levels of socio-economic deprivation, mental health problems and parenting stress as well as other known risks to child outcomes than the general population. However, when compared with the individually targeted population recruited for the SS study, they were shown to be experiencing significantly lower levels of these and other risks factors for poor child outcomes than the sample recruited for the SS trial where recruitment was based on known child risk factors.