Get access

The Family Check-Up With High-Risk Indigent Families: Preventing Problem Behavior by Increasing Parents’ Positive Behavior Support in Early Childhood


  • This research was supported by Grant 5 R01 DA16110 from the National Institutes of Health to the first and second authors. We gratefully acknowledge Cheryl Mikkola for her support in the preparation of this article, the Early Steps and the Child and Family Center staff for their assistance, and all the families who participated in this project.

concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas J. Dishion, Child and Family Center, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon, 195 W. 12th Avenue, Eugene, OR 97401. Electronic mail may be sent to


Seven hundred thirty-one income-eligible families in 3 geographical regions who were enrolled in a national food supplement program were screened and randomized to a brief family intervention. At child ages 2 and 3, the intervention group caregivers were offered the Family Check-Up and linked parenting support services. Latent growth models on caregiver reports at child ages 2, 3, and 4 revealed decreased behavior problems when compared with the control group. Intervention effects occurred predominantly among families reporting high levels of problem behavior at child age 2. Families in the intervention condition improved on direct observation measures of caregivers’ positive behavior support at child ages 2 and 3; improvements in positive behavior support mediated improvements in children’s early problem behavior.