- by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, Ph.D.
I started coming to New Zealand 16 years ago (2004) to train group leaders in the Incredible Years (IY) Basic Preschool Program. In 2009 the Ministry of Education decided they wanted training in the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program as well. In 2018, they committed to training in the IY Parent and Teacher Programs for helping young children on the autism spectrum. This is my 7th time returning to New Zealand, and by now I have developed a sustained love affair with New Zealand for its incredible beauty, wonderful, caring people, and their government’s commitment to supporting families and teachers with national health care, education as well as for its respect for the Maōri culture. For me it seems like a dreamland. Both Jamila Reid and Peter Loft, IY Seattle trainers, have also traveled many times to New Zealand for further training, consultations, and support.
I returned to Auckland February 10-15, 2020, for another 3-day training for group leaders in the IY Teacher Autism program, while Peter arrived a day later for training in the IY Parent Autism program. In 2018 the Ministry decided to pilot work to introduce the IY Autism programs and to evaluate the outcomes with high-risk families. I was pleased to meet these practitioners and hear about their experiences.
Following the training, I delivered a 1-day consultation for group leaders delivering the IY Toddler program. I am thrilled to see the Ministry introducing IY programs for families of younger children as I believe the sooner we provide support to families the better the chance of a good outcome for children. I hope one day they will consider adding the IY Baby program designed for parents of children from 1 month of age. However, I appreciate that the Ministry is deliberate and careful in their selection of IY programs, introducing one program at a time, and evaluating program outcomes carefully.
The week concluded with a National Forum open only to IY group leaders who have been accredited in either the IY teacher or parent programs. A total of 160 accredited group leaders attended this conference! Since 2004, almost 1000 practitioners have been trained to deliver either the parent or teacher IY programs in New Zealand. The Ministry of Education estimates that 28,000 parents & caregivers have attended IY parenting classes, and 20,000 teachers have attended IY teacher program workshops.
The Forum started with a pōwhiri, a Maōri welcoming ceremony including prayers, singing and speeches. I have always enjoyed these opening and closing Maōri ceremonies (which are also part of our IY trainings in New Zealand) as they maintain the traditional customs nurtured by generations of Maōri people as well and help the non-Maōri visitor such as myself understand something of the indigenous culture.
Lisa Herewini, the first Maōri IY mentor in New Zealand, delivered a presentation on Tailoring the IY Parent Program and Cultural Fidelity. Another presentation was given by IY Teacher program mentors, Anna Dickson and Kim Thompson, on how the IY programs are trauma-informed. Sheila Russell and Lee Taylor Burt, accredited teacher peer coaches, talked about their experiences delivering the IY Teacher Autism program. Tania Anstiss, IY Mentor, and Gill Duncan & Dawn Vogt, accredited parent group leaders, talked about their experiences delivering the IY Parent Autism program. Dr. Sira Engelbertz from the Ministry of Education presented an evaluation of the outcomes of IY Parent and Teacher Autism program delivery. Results are very promising, indicating significant reductions in teacher and parent stress, enhanced parent and teacher confidence, and more positive relationships with children. Please see the Ministry’s 2019 IY Autism Program Outcomes Monitoring Report for more information.
I began the morning of the forum with a keynote address: Tailoring Teacher and Parent Programs to Children’s Development. I used the IY Incredible Beginnings Program for day care providers and preschool children (ages 1-5 years) as an example of this tailoring. The day ended with my review of what it means to tailor IY programs with fidelity. Here is my definition:
Tailoring is personalizing or individualizing the IY evidence-based programs to the parent or teacher goals, needs, and risk factors as well as the child’s developmental status, diagnoses, and goals. This is the essence of delivering IY evidence-based programs with fidelity and to achieving sustainable results.
Here is some incredible data about New Zealand’s achievements:
- 1784 practitioners have been trained in the IY Parent Program
- 959 practitioners have been trained in the IY Teacher Program
- 171 practitioners have been trained in the IY Child Program
- 59 practitioners have been accredited as peer coach (half parent and half teacher)
- 7 practitioners have been accredited as mentors with a 2nd Maori mentor in progress
- 59 have been trained in IY Autism Parent program
- 50 have been trained in the IY Autism Teacher program
I do believe that every time I come here New Zealand has become even more “incrediBler”! They are definitely a model for how to deliver evidence-based programs with fidelity because of their commitment to consultation post-training and encouraging group leader accreditation. From these accredited group leaders, they are building a supportive infrastructure of peer coaches and mentors to assure sustainable outcomes.
Thanks to the Ministry of Education, Werry Center, Explore and Massey University for all their teamwork and help in supporting these group leaders and for program evaluation. Thanks also to these IY group leaders for their dedicated commitment to supporting parents and teachers of young children and to fidelity program delivery.