Mar 20, 2015


Legacy for Children (Legacy) is designed to support mothers’ ability to engage in positive parenting behaviors and mother-child interactions, by improving parenting self-efficacy and mothers’ sense of supportive community.  An experimental evaluation of the Legacy program found statistically significant positive impacts on mothers’ concerns about their child’s behavior, and children’s socio-emotional and behavior problems, and  hyperactive behavior.


Target population: low-income families with new-born children

The Legacy philosophy is that the quality of the mother-child relationship is critical to healthy child development.  The program focuses on key modifiable factors, such as a mother’s self-efficacy for parenting, commitment to the parenting role, and feeling supported for her parenting choices.  Legacy is intended to improve children’s behavioral, socio-emotional, cognitive, and language outcomes.  The program consists of weekly group meetings for between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, in a community or university location, occasional one-on-one sessions, and group outings in the community.  Each site develops its own curriculum.  The curricula focus on providing information and skills at times of high relevancy and motivation.  Topics include sensitive responding, affection, establishing and maintaining routines, discipline, play and creativity, language, and school readiness.


Evaluated Population: A total of 606 mother-child pairs in Miami, FL and Los Angeles, CA.  To be eligible, mothers had to be at least 18 years of age, live within the catchment area, be comfortable speaking English, intend to raise their child to speak primarily English, have received at least some prenatal care, and have income below 200 percent of the poverty level. Los Angeles participants were recruited at prenatal clinics, while Miami participants were recruited from two hospitals within 72 hours of delivery.

The mothers had a mean age of 24 years; 78 percent were unmarried; 74 percent were unemployed; 57 percent were non-Hispanic black, and 25 percent were Hispanic.

Approach:  Behavioral concerns and socio-emotional problems were assessed at baseline, and at 12, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months.  Emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems, and prosocial behavior were assessed only at the 48- and 60- month time points.  Data from the two cities were analyzed separately.  For Miami, the 60-months point represented the immediate post-intervention assessment, while in Los Angeles the 36-months point represented the immediate post-intervention assessment and was followed by two follow-ups at one (48 months) and two (60 months) years post-baseline.  At the 60-months data collection point, data were collected from 62 percent of the original participants in Los Angeles, and from 65 percent in Miami.

At baseline, Los Angeles mothers were significantly older, more educated, and more likely to be married, Hispanic, employed, renting their residence, and speaking a language other than English at home, than were Miami mothers.  Within sites, there were no significant differences between intervention and control groups at baseline.

Results:  For mother-child dyads who participated in the program, the evaluation found that the Legacy program had statistically significant positive impacts on mothers’ behavioral concerns at 24 months (Miami only, ES=-0.37), children’s socio-emotional problems at 48 months (Miami only, ES=-0.51), children’s hyperactive behavior at 60 months (Los Angeles only, ES=-0.38), and behavior problems from 24 to 60 months of age (Miami only, OR=0.56).



Kaminksi, J.W., Perou, R., Visser, S.N., Scott, K.G., Beckwith, L., Howard, J., Smite, C., Danielson, M.L. (2013).  Behavioral and socioemotional outcomes through age 5 years of the Legacy for Children public health approach to improving developmental outcomes among children born into poverty.  American Journal of Public Health, 103(6), 1058-1066.

KEYWORDS: Infants (0-12 mos), Toddlers (12-36 mos), Children (3-11), Males and Females (Co-ed), Community-based, Parent Training/Education, Conduct/Disruptive Disorders, Parent-Child Relationship

Program information last updated on 3/9/2015.