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Paving the Way

Early intervention for children with learning disabilities whose behaviours challenge

Stepping Stones

Brighton and Hove

learning to sign

Stepping Stones is a parenting programme (one of the “Triple P” programmes) specifically designed for parents of young disabled children. It has shown to be successful in improving the experiences of both parent and child.

How does it work?

Stepping Stones is offered to parents of 2 – 12 year olds with special educational needs and disabilities in local children’s centres around Brighton and Hove. For more urgent cases families can receive support individually, as part of the ‘Early Help’ role.
Amaze, a parent-led community group, and Seaside View, the local Child Development Centre work together to deliver the programme. A trained parent and a specialist make up the Stepping Stones team and work to engage parents with the programme, helping them overcome any initial doubt.

From the social work perspective, it’s a much more powerful and rewarding way of working. It improves relationships within the family… it changes the dynamics in the home.

Child Development Centre social work resource officer and Stepping Stones trainer

What can the service include?

  • Parents are referred by the social work team, parenting team or the Child Development Centre or can call the Amaze helpline to refer themselves. There is always a waiting list.
  • Groups run for 8 weeks and can be quite large (about 12 parents). Sharing experiences and getting support from each other is greatly valued by parents. They take home a workbook to continue learning between sessions.
  • Sessions that follow the Stepping Stones curriculum aim to develop parents’ skills and confidence. Topics include managing behaviour, using praise and rewards, establishing routines and boundaries, activity planning and recognising behaviour triggers.
  • Learning is based on the idea of positive parenting and emphasises the use of communication to improve behaviour.

I have more understanding to spot the early signs of behaviour; so I am well prepared. It gives you a quiet confidence.


What has it achieved?

Triple P is recognised by the Department for Education and the Early Intervention Foundation for its successes. In Brighton, Stepping Stones uses questionnaires to measure changes. They are answered before the programme starts and after parents have completed Stepping Stones. The results have shown improvements in nearly all areas.

What are the tips to help develop and sustain a service of this type?

  • Involve parents, through working with a parent-let community organisation for example, in designing a service that is built around them.
  • Triple P offered in children’s centres and primary schools across different areas encourages participation and demand for courses is high.
  • Working together across different agencies is key.

There’s a ‘halo effect’: I am a calmer parent for all my children. We are all functioning better, understanding our boundaries, everything is clearer. And our son knows how he fits into that.


What are the challenges?

Insecure funding from year to year makes it hard to plan ahead, meet demand or offer early support to families.