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Strengthening Child Rearing in Wood County: Evaluation of Parenting the First Year Instructional Newsletter Series By Elizabeth Zentner UW-Extension. What is Parenting the First Year ?. 12 Issue Set of Parenting Newsletters

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Strengthening Child Rearing in Wood County: Evaluation of Parenting the First Year Instructional Newsletter Series By Elizabeth ZentnerUW-Extension

what is parenting the first year
What is Parenting the First Year?
  • 12 Issue Set of Parenting Newsletters
  • Available Monthly to Parents During Their Infant’s First Year of Life
  • Matched to Infant’s Age
why a parenting the first year newsletter series
Why a Parenting the First Year Newsletter Series?
  • Early Experience Has Big Impact on Child Development
  • Parents Establish Patterns of Child Rearing Early On
  • Lack of Knowledge About Children Can Lead to Incompetent Parenting
advantages of newsletters
Advantages of Newsletters:
  • Age-Paced to Reach Parents at a “Teachable Moment”
  • Reaches Socially Isolated Families
  • Can Be Shared With Others
  • Low Cost
  • Available in Spanish
  • Easy to Read and Understand (Written at 5th Grade Reading Level)
developed by university of wisconsin extension for two goals
Developed by University of Wisconsin-Extension for Two Goals:
  • To Promote Competent Parenting
  • To Prevent Abusive Parenting
are the newsletters effective the evaluation study
Are the Newsletters Effective? The Evaluation Study:
  • Sample Size: 104 Families
  • Response Rate to Questionnaire Survey: 69%
  • Most Respondents Were Mothers (97%)
  • Only 5% Were Single Parents
  • Just Over Half (52%) Were First Time Parents
did parents read the news letters they say yes
Did Parents Read the News-letters? They Say “Yes!”
  • 77% Said They Read All Articles in All Issues
  • 51% Save the Newsletters as a Reference
examples of what parents said
Examples of What Parents Said:
  • “I truly enjoy your newsletter. My husband and I read it together every time it comes in the mail. This is our 1st child and everything with info helps. Thank you !”
  • “I think your newsletter is very interesting. I look forward to reading them each month and pass on the information I learned to friends & relatives.”
parents commented on their usefulness
Parents Commented On Their Usefulness:
  • “I really enjoy the newsletter that I receive. It’s opened my mind up to what my baby is thinking. I understand more about the growing process.”
  • “Thank you very much for the newsletters. I always looked forward to receiving them. They answered many questions.”
Over Half of New Parents Rated the Newsletters “Much More Useful” than Information Received from the Hospital
parents like the age pacing of the newsletters
Parents Like the Age-Pacing of the Newsletters
  • “I enjoy getting & reading the newsletter because it comes age related. When my child is 9-10 mos, I get a newsletter with info regarding that age. It has been very helpful. THANK YOU!”
  • “I like the newsletter because it is specific to the age of my child (month-by-month). I am happy to receive it. Thank you!”
parents believe that reading the newsletters has improved their parenting
Parents Believe That Reading the Newsletters Has Improved Their Parenting.


  • “The newsletter always talked about or reminded you about things you forgot to ask your doctor or felt that you couldn’t ask (too rushed). Great safety reminders, ways to stimulate or interact with your baby, reinforcement, etc. My 2nd was colicky and your newsletter heightened my patience.”
which parents need child rearing information most
Which Parents Need Child Rearing Information Most?
  • Parents Who Experience One or More Socio-economic Stressors
    • Low income
    • Low education
    • Teenage parents
    • Single parents
    • Socially isolated
risk group parents reported greater change in parenting than non risk parents
Risk Group Parents Reported Greater Change in Parenting Than Non Risk Parents.

In particular, risk-group parents (defined as those with socio-economic stressors) were 7% more likely to say that reading the newsletter caused them to smile, kiss and hug their babies more often.


Non Risk


“Reading the newsletters caused me to...

first time parents also liked the newsletter
First-Time Parents Also Liked the Newsletter:
  • “I find the newsletter very informational & look forward to it coming. This is my 1st child. There is a lot of things that I never thought of, so it is hard to ask about them.”
  • “We are first time parents and find the newsletter very informative.”
other uw extension research showed
Other UW-Extension Research Showed:

Parents Who Received Parenting the First Year

(compared to those who did not receive it)

  • were significantly less likely to think it necessary to slap or spank children to get them to mind.
  • reported actually hitting their children less often.
summary of evaluation results
Summary of Evaluation Results:
  • Parents Really Read the Newsletters.
  • Parents Share the Newsletters With Others.
  • Parents Rate the Newsletters Highly Useful.
  • Parents Report Positive Changes in Five Key Parenting Behaviors.
  • Risk Group Parents Reported Learning the Most.
recommendation continue distribution of the newsletter series
Recommendation: Continue Distribution of The Newsletter Series.
  • Based on Survey Results
  • Based on Parents’ Comments
summary comments from wood county parents
Summary Comments From Wood County Parents:
  • “I really enjoy Parenting the First Year. Hope you have a 2nd year too. Parents of toddlers need encouragement & support too. Keep publishing.”
  • “I hope you can continue these newsletters for parents for years to come. Wonderful & useful info for parents! Wonderful set-up & easy to understand.”
  • “Is there a newsletter for parenting the second year? I’d love to continue receiving these!!”
acknowledgment of project partners
Acknowledgment of Project Partners:
  • Wisconsin Rapids Kiwanis
  • Marshfield Kiwanis
  • Wood County Health Department
  • Riverview Hospital
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • UW-Extension Support Staff (Valerie Patterson & Darlene Back)
co authors of evaluation study
Co-Authors of Evaluation Study:
  • Dr. Dave Riley,


  • Carol Ostergren,