It seems you're using Internet Explorer 11, which is not supported by this website. Please consider upgrading to a modern browser for the best browsing experience.

For professionals in Dorset

How to refer parents to our parenting programmes

We have the following parenting programmes available for parents living in Dorset and BCP (Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole):

  • The Incredible Years Pre-school group programme for parents of children aged 3-6 years (14 weeks)
  • The Incredible Years School Age group programme for parents of children aged 6-12 years (12 weeks)
  • The Incredible Years group programme for parents of children aged 6 to 12 with a diagnosis of ADHD (18 weeks)

Printable information leaflet to give to parents 

Guidance for professionals/referrers: 

Before completing a referral, please check our programme criteria and guidelines to ensure the family are eligible. 

Please read our referral criteria here before completing a referral.

If you are unsure whether you fulfil the criteria or would like more information, please contact us

(The term “parent” is also used here for extended family members who have responsibility for a child, foster carers and adoptive parents.)

The family/child

  • The child is registered with a Dorset GP.
  • The child is aged between 2 and 12 years (or has a developmental age in this range)
  • The parent/s have direct contact with their child for more than 7 hours a week
  • The child is at risk of developing oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) or conduct disorder; or has a diagnosis of ODD, conduct disorder – this is defined by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers.
  • The parent/s is seeking information about how to manage their child’s behaviour
  • An initial assessment has been made and the problem behaviour and family context is such that the provision of advice and some minimal skills training is likely to be inadequate

For referral to group programme the following should be considered

  • The referral has already been discussed with the parent/s and they have committed to attend and complete the whole programme (between 12 and 18 weeks depending on programme)
  • The parent/s are not suffering from mental illness to the extent that they would be unable to complete the programme
  • The parent/s are not abusing substances/alcohol to the extent that they would be unable to complete the programme
  • The family situation is reasonably stable e.g. the parent/s are not in the process of separating or divorcing, the child is not about to be removed from home, ongoing court proceedings
  • Priority will be given to parents who have not previously attended a parenting programme

You can download our referral criteria in full here before completing a referral.

Programme Criteria Download

If you are unsure whether the family meets the guidelines or would like more information, please contact us

Guidelines for Referrers

Questions to ask yourself when considering referral for Children at Risk of Developing Conduct Disorder:

1: Are these symptoms present at these ages?

Aged 2-4

Tantrums are significant if (the more of these are true the higher the risk):

  • they happen daily
  • regularly last more than 5 minutes
  • include being aggressive and breaking things during tantrum
  • happen out of the blue
  • happen with non parental adult
  • tend not to resolve unless an adult intervenes
  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Developmental delay especially with speech and language

Aged 5-6

  • Tantrums as above
  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Lack of remorse in child
  • Delay in Speech development
  • Peer rejection

Aged 7-12 years

  • Tantrums as above
  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Lack of remorse in child
  • Little reaction to punishment
  • Refusal to accept blame
  • Poor educational performance – particular link with specific reading difficulties
  • Peer rejection

2: Are these risk factors present?

There is no single risk factor involved or indicated with CD development, but rather the more risk factors the child is exposed to the greater the odds of poor outcomes.

Family/ school factors:-

  • Parental mental ill health
  • parent drug or substance misuse
  • Generational unemployment
  • Family history of trouble with the police
  • Low income
  • Rigid punitive parenting/teaching style
  • Inconsistent parenting/teaching style

Aged 5-12 years

  • Poor home school connections
  • Peer relations not monitored

3: Does the family want a referral?

You can download our guidelines in full here before completing a referral.

Guidelines for Referrers Download

If you are unsure whether the family meets the guidelines or would like more information, please contact us

If the family you are referring is both eligible and meets the guidelines, download the Pan-Dorset parenting referral form.

Completed referrals can be emailed to [email protected]

For more information, or if you would like to discuss a potential referral, please contact us

How to make a referral to Dorset Nightstop

Dorset Nightstop can only accept referrals from agencies who have received training from us and are on our list of approved referrers. 

If you are interested in becoming an approved Nightstop referrer please contact us by emailing [email protected]

Dorset Nightstop accepts referrals from a range of agencies. You can access the service via a local housing office, local child care or leaving care team and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. 

Dorset Nightstop accepts referrals between 10am and 3.30pm, Monday to Thursday and between 10am and 3pm on Fridays. We currently do not accept referrals outside of this time period.

If you are a young person who would like to access Nightstop please contact the project on 01202 525643

Action for Children Dorset offers local professionals Incredible Years group opportunities.

Action for Children Dorset offers local professionals the opportunity to observe the ‘Incredible Years’ programmes. This enables professionals to experience being in a group and have a clearer understanding of the group process as well as seeing and enjoying the parents’ journey. The experience can enhance both professional development and the support you can offer to parents.   If you are interested in being an observer please email [email protected]

Please note that you have to commit to attending the whole programme (12 – 18 weeks)

‘Incredible Years' parent programmes focus on strengthening parent-child interactions and attachment, reducing harsh discipline and fostering parents' ability to promote children's social, emotional, and language development.

Details of official facilitator training for professionals in the ‘Incredible Years’ parent programmes can be found on the Incredible Years Website. The training enables professionals to deliver the parenting programmes with appropriately aged children (after purchasing the resources), but will not enable you to train other professionals. 

If you are already trained in the Incredible Years programmes and work for an agency who may be interested in co-leading with us please contact [email protected]

Children and young people:


If you're a child or young person who needs help urgently, please call Childline on 0800 1111.

Where's Your Head At?

The site provides helpful information and advice about young people's mental health and emotional well-being. 

Coram Children’s Legal Centre

Coram Children’s Legal Centre promote children's rights in the UK and worldwide. They provide free legal information, advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provide information on children and young people’s rights.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner promotes the rights, views and interests of children in policies or decisions affecting their lives. They represent children who are vulnerable or who find it hard to make their views known and have an advice service and helpline for children in care or receiving social care services. You can reach them by calling 0800 528 0731 between 9am-5pm.

The Mix

The Mix provides information and support for 13-25 year olds via their website and helpline.

Dorset for You

Dorset for You offers a list of local sources of advice and guidance 

Parents and carers:

Find out what to do if you are worried about a child or young person.

Family Lives

Family Lives offers support around all aspects of family life including child development, issues with schools and parenting/relationships, family breakdown, aggression in the home, bullying, risky teenage behaviour and mental health concerns of both parents and their children. 

They provide a confidential helpline 0808 800 2222 as well as live online chat, forums and online parenting courses.

Incredible Years

Incredible Years have resources and articles for parents on a range of topics.

Young Minds

Young Minds aims to improve the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people. They provide information for professionals, parents and young people through their Parents' Helpline, online resources, training and development, outreach work and publications.

Dependency and alcohol:


Addaction provides treatment help and advice about alcohol and drugs for young people and adults. Call 0207 2515860.


Adfam provides information and advice for families of alcohol and drug users. The website has a list of local family support services.

Talk about Alcohol

Talk About Alcohol is a website that provides information and resources about alcohol for young people.

Talk to Frank

Talk to Frank offers friendly and confidential drugs advice.