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Grow Online: feasibility and proof of concept study

Ryan P. Chesnut (Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Melina Czymoniewicz-Klippel (Biobehavioral Health Department, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Jennifer M. DiNallo (Biobehavioral Health Department, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Daniel F. Perkins (Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness and the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 17 December 2019

Issue publication date: 23 March 2020




Digitally delivered, parent-focused interventions (DD-PFIs) are viewed as an important method for supporting child well-being. Few DD-PFIs include health-promotion and general-parenting content, and only some are intended for a universal audience. The purpose of this paper is to focus on a preliminary evaluation of Grow Online, which was designed to address this gap.


A mixed-methods design, including pretests and posttests and semi-structured interviews, was employed to evaluate program feasibility and demonstrate proof of concept.


Feasibility findings were favorable, which indicates participants were satisfied with the program, liked the main program features, found the content helpful and had a positive experience using the website. Initial recruitment was strong, and engagement with the sessions was high; however, retention was poor with a 73.5 percent attrition rate. Significant pre- to post-changes were found on measures of over-reactive discipline, parenting efficacy, emotion coaching, coping socialization, child physical activity support, rewarding eating and child externalizing and internalizing behaviors.

Research limitations/implications

Study design and high attrition limit the ability to infer causality and generalize beyond the sample.

Practical implications

Providing support to parents through a universal health-promoting DD-PFI is viable, though issues involving retention need to be given full consideration.


Parents use of technology to access child care information is increasing, but most information online is not evidence-informed. Grow Online fills an important gap in the research and practice of DD-PFIs, and this study’s findings suggest a more rigorous evaluation is merited.



Chesnut, R.P., Czymoniewicz-Klippel, M., DiNallo, J.M. and Perkins, D.F. (2020), "Grow Online: feasibility and proof of concept study", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 25-42.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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