Txt u ltr: Using Cellular Phone Technology to Enhance a Parenting Intervention for Families at Risk for Neglect




Kathryn M. Bigelow, Judith J. Carta, and Jennifer Burke-Lefever

Brief Type

Journal Publication


  • Other Models


One of the biggest challenges facing home visiting programs aimed at high-risk families is keeping families involved in the intervention. Cellular phones afford the opportunity for home visitors to maintain regular communication with parents between intervention visits and thus retain high-risk families in parenting interventions. The use of cellular phones may also increase the dosage of intervention provided to families and the fidelity with which parents implement the intervention, thus resulting in improved outcomes for parents and children. This brief report describes the development and initial testing of a parenting program, Planned Activities Training (PAT), which was enhanced through the use of cellular phones to promote the active engagement of parents. PAT is a five-session intervention aimed at improving parent-child interactions, increasing child engagement in daily activities, and reducing challenging child behaviors. To date, 19 parents have completed PAT and cell phone—enhanced PAT, and all have met the 90% correct mastery criterion and demonstrated improvements in their parenting behaviors. Parents have rated PAT and the text messaging and cellular phone call enhancements very positively. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Fidelity observations
  • Surveys or questionnaires


Findings Available

For More Information

Bigelow, K. M., Carta, J. J., & Lefever, J. B. (2008). Txt u ltr: Using cellular phone technology to enhance a parenting intervention for families at risk for neglect. Child Maltreatment, 13, 4, 362.
doi: 10.1177/1077559508320060
Author contact information:
Jennifer Burke Lefever


  • Program Enhancements, Innovations, and Promising Approaches
  • Participant Recruitment, Retention, Engagement, and Dosage