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Play and Learning Strategies (PALS)

Yes (PALS Infant only)

In Brief

Last Updated

October 2012

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Evidence of Program Model Effectiveness

PALS Infant meets the criteria established by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for an “evidence-based early childhood home visiting service delivery model” for the general population, but does not meet the criteria for tribal populations.

PALS Toddler and the combination of PALS Infant + Toddler do not meet the DHHS criteria for the general population or for tribal populations.

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Program Model Description

Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) is designed to strengthen parent-child bonding and stimulate children’s early language, cognitive, and social development. There are two versions of the program: PALS I Infant curriculum for families with children 5 months to 1 year, which consists of 10 weekly sessions; and PALS II Toddler curriculum for children 18 months to 3 years, which consists of 12 weekly sessions. Both versions are offered through 90-minute home visits conducted by a parent educator. Parent educators are required to receive training and certification from the program developer, the Children’s Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center. The Children’s Learning Institute recommends that PALS be implemented by agencies with sustained funding mechanisms and organizational structures that can support program continuity, such as Head Start, Early Head Start, and not-for-profit early childhood agencies. For more information, please read the Program Model Overview.

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Extent of Evidence

Results of Search and ReviewNumber of Studies for PALS InfantNumber of Studies for PALS ToddlerNumber of Studies for PALS Infant + Toddler
Released from 1979 to 2011 622
Eligible for review 622
     Rated high 322
     Rated moderate 000
     Rated low 100
     Additional sourcesa 200

aAdditional sources overlap with another study and are not rated.

For more information, see the study database. For more information on the criteria used to determine the study ratings, please read Producing Study Ratings.

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Summary of Findings



Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) Infant
Outcomes Primary Outcome Measures Secondary Outcome Measures
Child Development and School Readiness

Favorable: 1
No effect: 15
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Child Health Not measured Not measured
Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Not measured Not measured
Linkages and Referrals Not measured Not measured
Maternal Health Not measured Not measured
Positive Parenting Practices

Favorable: 11
No effect: 12
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 1

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Reductions in Child Maltreatment Not measured Not measured
Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime Not measured Not measured

PALS Toddler
Outcomes Primary Outcome Measures Secondary Outcome Measures
Child Development and School Readiness

Favorable: 6
No effect: 7
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 1

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Child Health Not measured Not measured
Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Not measured Not measured
Linkages and Referrals Not measured Not measured
Maternal Health Not measured Not measured
Positive Parenting Practices

Favorable: 1
No effect: 13
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Reductions in Child Maltreatment Not measured Not measured
Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime Not measured Not measured

PALS Infant + Toddler
Outcomes Primary Outcome Measures Secondary Outcome Measures
Child Development and School Readiness

Favorable: 0
No effect: 14
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Child Health Not measured Not measured
Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Not measured Not measured
Linkages and Referrals Not measured Not measured
Maternal Health Not measured Not measured
Positive Parenting Practices

Favorable: 3
No effect: 11
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Favorable: 0
No effect: 0
Unfavorable or ambiguous: 0

Reductions in Child Maltreatment Not measured Not measured
Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime Not measured Not measured

Please read Describing Effects for more information on these categories. Only results from studies that meet the standards for the high or moderate ratings are included above.

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Criteria Established by the Department of Health and Human Services

 PALS InfantPALS ToddlerPALS Infant + Toddler
Information Based on Comprehensive Review of All High- and Moderate-Impact Studies for this Model
High- or moderate-quality impact study? YesYesYes
Across high- or moderate-quality studies, favorable impacts in…
 
   at least two outcome domains within one sample
 
   OR
 
   the same domain for at least two non-overlapping samples?
YesYesNo
Favorable impacts on full sample? YesYesYes
Any favorable impacts on outcome measures sustained at least 12 months after program enrollment?a YesNoNo
One or more favorable, statistically significant impact reported in a peer-reviewed journal?a YesYesYes

aThis information is reported for all program models, but the requirements for sustained findings and inclusion in a peer-reviewed journal only apply to models for which all findings are from randomized controlled trials.

Please read the DHHS Criteria for Evidence-Based Program Models for more information.

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