Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): A Process Evaluation: Research Brief. Who Participates in the OMI and in What Setting?

12/01/2008

By design, OMI workshops are offered to both couples and single individuals. The initiative aims to have positive effects on the relationships of both married and unmarried couples. For single adults and high school students, the aim is to enhance individuals ability to form strong relationships and marriages in the future.

The breakdown of OMI workshop participants reflects this broad definition of goals and the institutional partnerships that the OMI has formed. Between 2001 and 2007:

  • More than 53 percent of workshop participants were youth (high school students and first-time juvenile offenders).
  • About 21 percent were adult clients of institutions (welfare recipients, adoptive parents, prison inmates, parents of juvenile offenders, and others).
  • About 20 percent were adults served by volunteers in the general community (in faith, counseling, community services, and related settings).
  • Five percent were adults who received an abbreviated form of the workshop in a one- or two-day large-scale community event.

The initiatives aim is to serve people in different stages of relationship and marriage. About three-quarters of workshop participants during the period were youth or adult clients of agencies that serve single adults. Most of these individuals attended without a partner or spouse, even though some might have been in relationships.

The overall pattern of participation results from several factors. First, the OMI has intentionally focused on educating young people, who in Oklahoma tend to marry young and thereby become at high risk for divorce. Second, it has focused on low-income groups, who are also known to be at special risk for divorce and nonmarital childbearing. Third, because few agencies and institutions target couples  in Oklahoma and elsewhere  it has been difficult to identify major sources of couples for identifying and offering OMI services.(1)  Most couples who have participated in OMI services have done so within faith, counseling, or related settings.

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