Evidence-Based Strategies

Common-Sense Parenting

Common Sense Parenting (CSP) is a group-based class for parents of children ages 6-16 years.  The goals are to:

  • Equip parents with a logical method for changing their children's behaviors through teaching positive behaviors, social skills, and methods to reduce stress in crisis situations
  • Provide parents with practical strategies for enhancing parent-child communication and building robust family relationships

Credentialed trainers conduct 6 weekly, 2-hour sessions to teach practical skills to increase children’s positive behavior, decrease negative behavior, and model appropriate alternative behavior. Each class is formatted to include a review of the prior session, instruction of the new skill, modeled examples, skill practice/feedback, and a summary.  The recommended class size is 8-10 parents.


Thompson, R. W., Grow, C. R., Ruma, P. R., Daly, D. L., & Burke, R. V. (1993). Evaluation of a practical parenting program with middle and low-income families. Family Relations, 42, 21–25. Type of Study: Within-group pre-/post-test design.  Number of Participants: 34 (10 in “low-income” group, 24 in “middle-income” group)

Thompson, R. W., Ruma, P. R., Schuchmann, L. F., & Burke, R. V. (1996). A cost-effectiveness evaluation of parent training. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 5, 415-429.

Ruma, P. R., Burke, R. V., & Thompson, R. W. (1996). Group parent training: Is it effective for children of all ages? Behavior Therapy, 27, 159–169. Type of Study: Within-group pre-test/post-test design.  Number of Participants: 206 (originally 304; 98 mothers dropped out during treatment)

Griffith, A. K. (2010). The use of a behavioral parent training program for parents of adolescents. Journal of At-Risk Issues, 15(2), 1-8.  Type of Study: Within-group pre-/post-test design. Number of Participants: 42 parents.  Age range: 12-16 years. 


Burke, R., Herron, R., & Barnes, B. A. (2006). Common Sense Parenting®, 3rd edition. Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home: Boys Town, NE, USA.

Burke, R., Schuchmann, L. F., & Barnes, B. A. (2006). Common Sense Parenting® Trainer Guide, 3rd edition. Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home: Boys Town, NE, USA

Prevention Matrix

Primary and Secondary


3: Promising research evidence, California Evidence-Based Clearninghouse



Training is provided by the Training, Evaluation, & Certification department at the Boys Town Home Campus located in Boys Town, Nebraska.  Staff from other Boys Town sites, such as Boys Town California, receive their training at Home Campus in Nebraska.

Four training methods are used to ensure that the program is implemented as designed:

  • First, extensive training sessions for trainers (i.e., interventionists/workshop leaders) emphasizes (a) instruction in effective skills and practices, (b) demonstration of effective skills and practices, (c) practice with parenting skills, (d) feedback on practice efforts and training processes, and (e) ongoing coaching by Boys Town staff.
  • Second, interventionists work through the program's training package, which includes a parent's book, a trainer's manual, and a 55-minute DVD with 85 vignettes that model correct and incorrect ways of using the skills.
  • Third, all interventionists complete a three-day training program related to implementation of the program.
  • Fourth, program replication efforts include training in the use of program fidelity assessments.

Training length is 3-days (approximately 24 hours)

Minimum Provider Qualifications:  A high school diploma is acceptable but a Bachelor's degree is preferred. Boys Town staff must complete initial training (24 hours), continuing education courses (6 hours for the first credentialing), and also must meet model fidelity criteria based on class observations and objective ratings on the model fidelity instrument. After credentialing, local contract trainers are also encouraged to participate in yearly in-service training, questionnaires, and reviews to maintain their skills.

Nebraska Children Grantee Communities

Dakota County Connections - Dakota County

West Central Partnership - Lincoln County

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