The Incredible Years® Blog

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Incredible Years in Colin, Northern Ireland

  • by Bernie Donaghy, Colin Transitions Programme Coordinator and accredited IY Parent Group Leader

Over the last two and a half years Incredible Years in Colin has been one of three signature programmes selected by the our Health and Social Care Trust (South Eastern Region) under the Northern Ireland Government’s Social Investment Fund.  In that time period we, in partnership with approximately 15  other agencies in the Colin area, have completed 31 Incredible Years  Programmes which included Basic Parent Programmes,  Toddler Programmes,  School Readiness Programmes plus we are at midpoint of 2 Incredible Years Autism and Language Delay Programmes.  In addition to these Incredible Years Programmes we have teachers from 2 of the Colin schools trained and using the strategies in Teacher Classroom Management, 3 Nursery schools  delivering Incredible Years Dina with a further two venues (1 school and 1 community organisation) joining this delivery in September 18 after their recent Dina Training (June 18),  completed 4 Incredible Years Baby Programmes and 2 Incredible Years ADHD Programmes as part of the Changing Lives Initiative.   Our evaluation of the Incredible Years Programmes are illustrated in the Colin Report Card which show impact.  We have been quite busy over this period.

IMG_4595.JPGOn Thursday 14th June we held a joint Celebration for the parents of the Colin Transitions Programmes  who completed the Incredible Years Parent Programmes and the Partnership with Parents Programme.   Over 100 parents plus facilitators, community leaders, and funders attended the event.  Parents spoke very positively on their experience and how they have implemented the strategies in their home.  Two of the parents gave an over view of their experience of pre, mid and post Incredible Years Programme to the attendees of the Event.  The parents spoke from the heart and the audience was clearly moved by the real life stories they heard.



To learn more about the Colin Neighbourhood Partnership and Early Intervention Community, please visit their website.


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Incredible Mentor-Emeritus Lesley Stanley honored

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

Lesley Stanley, MNZM, a clinical psychologist, has received the prestigious New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, in 2018.


In 2003, she started as an Incredible Years parent group leader, becoming accredited as a group leader and then Mentor, so that she could train others.  She was the first Mentor in the IY TCM program and is largely responsible for bringing the TCM program to New Zealand teachers.  Lesley helped integrate both parent and teacher programs in schools and provided training, consultation, and support to many IY group leaders throughout the country.  Today more than 20,000 parents and 13,000 teachers have accessed the programs.

Lesley retired in 2014 from the Ministry of Education, Special Education, where she had been the national Practice leader for Incredible Years and is now considered an Incredible Years Mentor Emeritus.  In her retirement she continues to volunteer with support to IY parent programs, and is truly an incredible person who has been committed all her life to supporting families, teachers, and children.  We are grateful to have had her on the IY team and happy to see her recognized for her great dissemination work.

Click here to read more about Lesley’s receipt of the Queen’s Birthday Honour.


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The Incredible Years® Conference in Denmark

  • by Malene Lundgren & Carolyn Webster-Stratton

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The Incredible Years® Conference in Denmark at Hindsgavl Castle on the 14th of May was a huge success, with almost 200 participants.  The purpose of the conference was to gather all Danish interested parties and make it a fresh start for the Incredible Years® Programs in Denmark.

The conference was opened by the director of the Center for ADHD Helle Hartung.

carolyn speaking.jpgShe gave a warm welcome to Carolyn Webster-Stratton, the developer of the Incredible Years® Programs.

The first theme was Carolyn’s personal, fascinating story about the creation and development of the Incredible Years® programs.

Next, Marie Louise Rimestad presented her research on the mediating factors/active ingredients in the Basic parent program.

Maria Møller Cassøe and Line Møller Sletting gave a presentation about the important role of play in the Incredible Years® program. And they presented a play suitcase with items to support the transfer of learning and play activities from session to home.

group photo.jpgThere is a lot of Denmark interest around the Incredible Years® Autism Program for parents and the Incredible Beginnings® program for day care providers and preschool teachers of children ages 1-5 years, so people were listening very carefully to the overviews of these programs that Carolyn Webster-Stratton gave in the afternoon. A perfect ending of a wonderful day.

The framework for the fresh start for the Incredible Years® in Denmark could not have been more perfect.


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Anton Rasmussen, Administrator, and Barbara Palmer, IY Mentor

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Dreams can come true! The Genesis Program in Ireland delivers the Incredible YearsⓇ Suite of Programs in Schools

  • by Carolyn Webster-Stratton

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I normally write blogs about my travels and not my work engagements. However, this time I want to share my recent experience in Ireland. I feel that I went to heaven for a few days.

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a classroom in Dundalk

As developer of the Incredible Years (IY) Programs in the 80’s, I began with a dream that intervention programs designed to promote young children’s social, emotional and language development should be offered to parents and teachers in day care centers, preschools and primary grades. I believed that providing children as young as possible with a solid social and emotional foundation would lead to better academic learning as well as reduced violence and depression later in life. When I was invited by the Genesis Program in Ireland for the launching of their Linking the Learning document I had no notion that I would experience that this dream had largely come true for this amazing community.

The Genesis Programme is a consortium of Partner Organizations delivering the IY suite of parent, teacher and child programs to communities, early years services and schools in Dundalk and Drogheda in County Louth as part of the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Program, funded by The Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

10 Year Birthday Celebration

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Arriving in Drogheda at my hotel I was surprised by an invitation to the 10 year birthday dinner celebration of the beginning of The Genesis Program’s delivery of Incredible Years Programs.

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Benny and Hugh

At this event were parents, teachers, principals, group leaders and community leaders who were present at the birth of this program. Not only was the food great but there was Irish music and dancing followed by the best cake I have ever tasted. (I took a piece back to my room for breakfast.)

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There were even cupcakes with marzipan faces of Wally, Molly and Dina dinosaur on them. Surely I was having a delightful dream!




Since its struggling first efforts in 2008 funded largely by foundations, the eventual formal establishment of The Genesis Program was in 2014 with the financial support (ABC) of the Irish government. To date the Genesis Program has trained 71 IY group leaders in one of the IY baby, preschool, school age parent, or teacher, or child programs; 19 public health nurses; 50 early years practitioners (preschool teachers of children 3-5 years); and 664 parents. Additionally, 531 teachers and early years practitioners have been trained in either the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program, Classroom Dina Programme or Small Group Dina Program. The programs are embedded in 12 schools and 15 early years (aka preschool centers). The Genesis Program is the first organization world wide to roll out the newest program called Incredible Beginnings designed for teachers and day care providers of children aged 1-5 years. They have delivered 5 Incredible Beginnings training groups and already have 2 accredited group leaders. They have also begun delivery of the new parent program for children on the Autism Spectrum. Approximately 7,903 children have been reached with these IY programs. Their current plans are to deliver 81 IY programs in 2018!

In September 2017, The Changing Lives Initiative came into being.  This initiative delivers the 20-week parent program to parents whose children display signs and symptoms of ADHD, but who are not yet diagnosed with ADHD. The program is funded through Interreg funding provided by the EU.

Incredible Schools and Children

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At this 3-day event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the birth of Incredible Years in Louth County, I visited 10 schools (with Wally and Dina dinosaur) to see child dinosaur groups being delivered by incredible teachers to children in preschools and primary grade classrooms. Several schools also had pull out dinosaur small group programs for children with more severe behavior problems. These schools included the following:

Classroom.jpgSt. Joseph’s NS

Lios na nÓg

Springboard Project

Gaelscoil Dun Dealgan

Scoil Eoin Baiste

Redeemer Creche

St. Patrick’s NS/St. Brigid’s NS/Clever Cloggs

Moneymore Childcare Centre

St. John’s JNS

Marymount NS

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I was welcomed in these classrooms with joyful glee, gifts, cards and dinosaur songs from children as well as role play demonstrations by children of how they have learned to come up with solutions to problem situations.

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cards from all of the children plus a framed picture done by the girl holding it



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One classroom even welcomed me with pictures of the American flags they had colored!





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Dinosaur School delivered in Irish language

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The feeling of joy was pervasive the moment I entered these schools with pictures of Wally, Molly, Dina Dinosaur and Tiny Turtle painted on the hallway walls, posters everywhere of IY solutions, school rules, and Wally feeling pictures as well as school entrance ways showing framed photos of parent graduates from IY parent programs.

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Incredible Principals and Teachers

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St. John’s Primary School was the first school to start IY programs, 10 years ago.  Dympna MacKenna, Principal

I was met by energetic and welcoming principals from each of the primary schools and early years services who glowed as they described the successes of their teachers using the IY programs with their students.Carolyn w- principal.jpg

One principal told me, “if we weren’t offering this program I think I would have quit.” Another principal said, “ 10 years ago I was yelling at children who misbehaved and they were sent to me for discipline, now I go to them to reward them and help them problem solve. This program has transformed out school.

In one school I was fortunate to watch the children’s dinosaur school graduation where a classroom sang Dina’s compliment and show me five rules song.

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an Early Years School

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incredible teachers

Incredible Parents

I also met with parents at each of these schools who talked of their partnerships with teachers and principals and how their children loved school.

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graduates of IY Baby program

In both Dundalk and Drogheda there were graduation ceremonies and celebration lunches for 74 parents who had completed one of the IY parent programs. Parents received framed certificates of their graduation and gave speeches reflecting on their experiences participating in these IY baby, preschool and school age program groups bringing tears of joy to those in the room as well as an overwhelming feeling of community support and caring for each other.


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graduates of IY Basic Parent Program

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A parent who attended the first group 10 years ago is now an accredited group leader and part of the Genesis team


Incredible Group Leaders
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Finally on the last day there was a celebration lunch of all the IY group leaders who had completed accreditation in one of the IY programs. 25 Group Leaders were recognized on this day and received a glass memento to mark their accreditation.


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Accredited IY Group Leaders

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Alice Malone, Quality Assurance Coordinator

The Genesis Program place a high value on coaching, fidelity and accreditation and provide support to Group Leaders in all aspects of delivery. They have developed a set of Best Practice Guidelines for each Group Leader delivering the program and encourage them to deliver with fidelity to ensure they get the best outcomes for children and families in their respective communities. Alice Malone plays an invaluable role as the quality assurance coordinator as well as being an accredited group leader and peer coach who supports group leaders with her warmth and humor.



Genesis Incredible Team

It was a truly incredible and magical experience to see parents, teachers and principals, early years managers and community leaders joined together in a partnership to support children’s optimal development. The Genesis Program Project team made up of 12 committed people have developed a supportive infrastructure and network not only by training teachers and parents but by continuing to support and coach them after training so that they can be become accredited in the programs.

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the incredible Genesis team

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Hugh Doogan, Program Manager

The Louth county is a community that is an incredible model for other communities. They are led by Hugh Doogan the Genesis Program manager whose collaborative, nurturing, and supportive leadership approach inspires magic in his Genesis staff who in turn inspire teachers and parents who in turn inspire children to enjoy the magic of learning with the help of some life size puppets.





Launching the Linking the Learning Document

Carolyn linking learning.jpgGenesis invited me to celebrate and help launch a document called Linking the Learning. This document has two parts one for Early Years Practitioners (preschool teachers) and one for Primary Grade Teachers. The idea behind the document was to illustrate how the suite of Incredible Years programs (Dina Dinosaur and Teacher Classroom Management Curriculum) link with the Irish Early Years National Quality Curriculum Framework (Siolta) and the Aistear/Siolta Practice and Principles of Learning and Development.  Additionally the document illustrates how the IY programs are linked to the Irish Primary School Curriculum Framework (SPHE) and support oral language instruction, the Health Promotion Framework and academic achievement. They have developed Best Practices guidelines for each of the IY programs.

As the developer of IY programs, I feel I have had the easy job of doing the research and developing the training protocol plan. Just as for the architect of a building plan, for the construction to be successful it takes the competent leadership of the on-site construction manager (Hugh Doogan) to select the best subcontractors (group leaders, coaches) and builders (teachers, parents) to make sure they are building the house with a strong foundation. It has been my dream come true to see this collaborative effort with continuing efforts to promote accreditation of the subcontractors and to develop peer coaches so there is quality control going forward. I wish there was someway to bottle the Genesis and Louth community magic and send it forth to other communities.

Please click here to read the Genesis report Linking The Learning (PDF)



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Caroline White selected to advise Parliament Select Committee on early intervention

IY Trainer Caroline White has been asked to be a Specialist Advisor to Parliament on early intervention, to advise on implementation science for the Science and Technology Select Committee.

This announcement comes after Caroline was requested to attend the House of Commons Select Committee for Science and Technology on Early Intervention last month. With her Manchester Local Authority colleague, Shirley Woods-Gallagher, Caroline presented evidence on early intervention to the expert panel with members of parliament.


Caroline and Shirley are currently working with Andy Burnham, Manchester’s first Elected Mayor, for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Manchester plus 9 surroundings boroughs, total population 2.7 million). They are working with GMCA to embed more evidence based, early intervention across all 10 local authorities.

Caroline writes: “Being on the Expert Panel was a great experience, having MPs from across all parties asking questions about early intervention, outcomes, data and evaluation, and implementation. My main focus was to emphasize what we have known for decades – early intervention is better for child and parent outcomes, and also saves money. It’s great to be involved and to have some potential influence over policy and practice.”

You can watch Caroline’s presentation to the expert panel last month at:

Congratulations to Caroline! We are excited that you will have the opportunity to share your expert advice!


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New Zealand provides a unique cultural training environment for delivering Incredible Years Programmes

  • by IY Mentor Tania Anstiss and Mentor-in-Training Lisa Herewini

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Incredible Years in Aotearoa/New Zealand continues to grow and develop in exciting new directions! The importance of Māori as tangata whenua (indigenous people of our land) underpins the partnership between the team at Werry Workforce Whāraurau and our Māori and Pacific communities. This collaboration informs the ways we continue to support innovative delivery of the Incredible Years Programme in a culturally responsive way.

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Werry’s Incredible Years mentor-in-training and Māori Advisor, Lisa Herewini, provides an important leadership role in this work. A range of opportunities are offered to the workforce to ensure they are supported to meet the unique needs of whānau (families) in New Zealand.


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Trainees stand outside the wharenui (traditional Māori meeting house)


In partnership with local iwi (tribe), Werry Workforce Whāraurau recently offered an IY Basic training workshop on a marae (a traditional and sacred community space).

Working together to provide training in such environments helps develop a shared understanding of how best to meet the needs of Māori whānau (families). It also enables integration of cultural understandings, metaphors and practices into our Incredible Years mahi (work).

The intention of such events is to provide a full cultural experience alongside the standard training process and content. Participants have indicated that this approach is valuable to them and all trainees at this recent event indicated the experience was a good ‘cultural fit’ for Māori Incredible Years Leaders. The expertise of Incredible Years mentors like Lisa, who can hold perspectives from two cultural world views adds significant value to this unique training experience.

Naku te rourou nau te rourou

Ka ora ai te iwi

With your basket and my basket

The people will thrive

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New Zealand rolls out Incredible Years Autism and Language Delays Programs for Teachers and Parents

Kia ora,

The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the Werry Workforce and Massey University are introducing the Incredible Years Parent and Teacher Programs in New Zealand. The Ministry of Education had an open tender process in 2017 and selected participants for these training workshops. Selection was based on group leaders’ extensive experience delivering the IY basic parent program or the IY teacher classroom management program as well as experience working with children on the autism spectrum. Also consideration was given to locations of particular regions and organizations who applied. Seven different districts, 4 on the north island and 3 on the south island were represented for this first training with Dr. Carolyn Webster-Stratton, the developer.

For the Parent Autism Program 20 accredited IY basic parent group leaders and 4 IY parent mentors met for 3 days in Auckland at the Grand Mercure hotel for training in the Autism Parent Program.

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Participants in the Autism Parent Group Leader Training, representing The Ministry of Eduction, Werry Centre, Napier Family Centre, Incredible Families Centre, Motueka Family Centre, and Presbyterian Support Upper Southland.

For the Teacher Autism Program 16 accredited IY teacher group leaders and 2 IY teacher mentors met for 2 days of training in how to use this program as a supplement to the IY Teacher Classroom Management Program. There were 5 participants who attended both trainings who had prior accreditation in both parent and teacher programs.

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Carolyn really enjoyed working with these experienced and energetic group leaders who are clearly passionate about their work with parents, teachers and children on the spectrum. Many had been working with this population for 8-10 years and in the field of psychology, social work or teaching for much longer.

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The meeting opened February 19 with a Maori welcoming ceremony led by Rawiri Wharemate the kaumatua from Werry Workforce and Piripi Daniels from Ngati whatua in Orakei who also works for the Ministry of Education in Auckland.

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One of the days of this meeting managers met to talk about implementation issues and in the evening to hear a presentation by Carolyn giving a brief overview of the Incredible Years Programs and research, particularly focused on the Autism programs with some video examples. She also talked about the Incredible Beginnings Program for young children (1-5 years) for training day care providers and early childhood teachers.

The message was the earlier the intervention the better. She applauds New Zealand Ministry of Education for being the first country to roll out this program nationally and for their careful collaboration and evaluation plans.

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To learn more about the training opportunities in the Incredible Years Autism programs, please visit our website.