The lifetime costs of childhood behavioural problems and the benefits of early intervention

Michael Parsonage, Lorraine Khan & Anna Saunders

22 January 2014

Building a better future reviews the large body of evidence on the costs of severe behavioural problems and the economic benefits of parenting programmes, and shows that the programmes are not only proven to work but, when well implemented, are very good value for money. The benefits of this intervention are so high relative to its cost that only a modest improvement in outcomes is needed to support a strong economic case. 

Parenting programmes more than pay for themselves through future savings in public spending, spread across a range of budgets including education, health, social care and criminal justice. And there are also substantial benefits to wider society and to individuals and their families, not all of which can easily be measured in monetary terms.

"If you had somebody telling you what to expect before you went, then I think that's nice, it would encourage you to go, if you had someone to talk to about it before."

(Mother who had not attended a parenting programme)

"It's given me a lot more confidence in being a parent and helped me understand the importance of being a mum... "

(Mother engaged with a parenting group)

"Something of the things work straight away. I wish I'd realised how easy it was."

(Mother, programme attendee)


Audience: Policy makers, commissioners, children's services.


Free to download below.

Download Building a better future PDF (4.5 MB)

There's also a summary, if you're short of time.

Download Building a better future summary PDF (2.8 MB)

Video to show what parenting programmes are like

This video was made by parents for parents to show them what the programmes feel like and answer some common questions that parents have.

Briefings for professionals

And we have produced a series of nine briefings for professionals on childhood behavioural problems to help GPs, teachers, nurses and housing professionals to identify children with behavioural problems and to know how to offer their parents the right help.