Research Findings

Learn more about our research for the New Beginnings Program.

Blueprints For Healthy Youth DevelopmentNew Beginnings

The New Beginnings Program has been tested through careful research with hundreds of families over the past 25 years. The program has been recognized as a Blueprints Model Program.

The program addresses the aspects of divorce that cause the most problems for parents and children – difficulties in the parent-child relationship and discipline. The program also helps parents figure out how best to keep their children from getting involved in conflicts between themselves and their ex-partners.

Three randomized controlled trials of the New Beginnings Program have been conducted. These studies found that the program resulted in parents being warmer and using more effective discipline and children experiencing fewer problems as compared with children whose parents were not in the program. Six years later children from NBP families had:

  • Fewer serious behavior and emotional problems
  • Higher grades
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Less drug and alcohol use
  • Less early sexual activity

How long do the improvements last? 

Fifteen years after the program, the young adults whose families participated in the program had fewer mental health and substance abuse problems than those whose families did not participate in the program. They also had less involvement with the criminal justice system. 

Publications on the New Beginnings Program

  • Herman, P. M., Mahrer, N. E., Wolchik, S. A., Porter, M. M., Jones, S., & Sandler, I. N. (2014). Cost-benefit analysis of a preventive intervention for divorced families: reduction in mental health and justice system service use costs 15 years later. Prevention Science, 1-11.
  • Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J.-Y., Mahrer, N. E.,Millsap, R. E., Winslow, E., & Reed, A. (2013). Fifteen year follow-up of a randomized trial of a preventive intervention for divorced families: Effects on mental health and substance use outcomes in young adulthood. Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology, 81,600–673.
  • Wolchik, S.A., Sandler, I.N., Millsap, R.E., Plummer, B.A., Greene, S.M., Anderson, E.R., et al. (2002). Six-year follow-up of a randomized, controlled trial of preventive interventions for children of divorce. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 1-8

References for Effective Coping For Children and Youth Following Divorce

  • Wolchik, S. A., & Sandler, I. N. (2009). Response to parental divorce. In C. Galanter & P. Jensen (Eds.), DSM-IV TR casebook and treatment guide for child mental health. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Velez, C. E., Wolchik, S. A., Tein, J. Y., & Sandler, I. N. (2011). Protecting children from the consequences of divorce: A longitudinal study of the effects of parenting on children’s coping processes. Child Development, 82, 244-257.
  • Winslow, E. B., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. A., & Carr, C. (2005). Building resilience in all children: A public health approach. In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of resilience in children (2nd ed., pp. 337-356). New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
  • Sandler, I.N., Wolchik, S.A., Davis, C.H., Haine, R.A., & Ayers, T.S. (2003). Correlational and experimental study of resilience for children of divorce and parentally-bereaved children. In S.S. Luthar (Ed.), Resilience and vulnerability: Adaptation in the context of childhood adversities. (pp. 213-243). New York: Cambridge University Press.

References for Parenting Following Divorce

  • Sandler, I., Wolchik, S., Winslow, E., Mahrer, N., Moran, J., & Weinstock, D. (2012). Quality of maternal and paternal parenting following separation and divorce. In K. Kuehnle & L. Drozd (Eds.), Parenting plan evaluations: Applied research for the Family Court (pp. 85 – 123). New York, NY: Oxford University Press
  • Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I., Weiss, L., & Winslow, E. B. (2007). New Beginnings: An empirically-based program to help divorced mothers promote resilience in their children. In J. M. Briesmeister & C. E. Schaefer (Eds.), Handbook of parent training: Helping parents prevent and solve problem behaviors (pp. 25-62). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Sandler, I., Wheeler, L., & Braver, S. (in press). Relations of parenting quality, interparental conflict, and overnights with mental health problems of children in divorcing families with high legal conflict. Journal of Family Psychology.
  • Salem, P., Sandler, I., & Wolchik, S. (2013). Taking stock of parent education in the Family Courts: Envisioning a public health approach. Family Court Review.

References for Predicting Children and Youth Risk Following Divorce

  • Tein, J.-Y., Sandler, I. N., Braver, S. L., Wolchik, S. A. (2013). Development of a brief parent report risk index for children following parental divorce. Journal of Family Psychology, 27, 925-936. doi: 10.1037/a0034571
  • Dawson-McClure, S. R., Sandler, I. N., Wolchik, S. A., & Millsap, R. E. (2004). Risk as a moderator of the effects of prevention programs for children from divorced families: A six-year longitudinal study. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 32, 175-190.