Summary of key findings What do we already know about this topic? Over the past decade, parent support courses have gained a very positive reputation in policy, practice and research. They are generally considered helpful by parents, and objective studies report that in many different situations such courses have a positive effect on parenting. o Parents of children with special needs face particular challenges. o There are hardly any support courses that specifically target parents of children with special needs. o In children’s services work with parents more widely there is a growing emphasis on parent-professional partnerships. Most parenting support courses however, are facilitated by professionals. What does this project add? o The Insiders’ Guide parent support course is aimed specifically at parents of children with special needs. o The course goes a long way to meeting their learning and support needs. o It facilitated positive changes in parental confidence and competence (especially for those parents starting off feeling very unconfident). o The course was oversubscribed, popular with parents (including parents who would not normally attend such courses), and had a very low drop out rate. o The Insiders’ Guide course is co-facilitated by parents and professionals. o Course facilitators valued the experience and most felt that it improved their parenting and/or practice. o The evaluation provides evidence to suggest that the parent-professional facilitator partnership model is effective. o What do we still need to find out? o How the Insiders’ Guide matches up when directly compared to other forms of parenting support. o Whether or not the positive effect of the course is sustained over time. o Whether a group of entirely unconfident parents would find the course helpful. What aspects of the course would it be most worth taking away and copying in other contexts? o Parent support course planners might usefully note that the combination of support, psychological reflection, information and education worked well. o It is worth investing in the detail. Pre-visiting prospective course participants in their own homes prior to them signing up is particularly helpful for getting less confident parents along to the course. Providing nice refreshments, a pleasant environment and a take home gift were highly appreciated. o The co-delivery model of the course (by a professional and a parent facilitator) was very effective and popular with participants and facilitators. It could be harnessed by children’s services to meet policy and practice objectives of partnership working in other contexts. o Intensive co-training of facilitators appears to be crucial in ensuring this success.