Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): A Process Evaluation. Creating Curriculum Adaptations to Enhance Fit

05/23/2008

As OMI leaders planned, the various organizations and individuals working with the OMI have all used PREP® in their workshops.  As the OMI expanded to serve an increasingly diverse population, however, it became apparent that modifications were needed to make the material relevant and accessible.  Some of these modifications were already made informally by workshop leaders themselves.  For example, workshop leaders working with people of color sometimes felt that changes in language or emphasis were important for cultural sensitivity and specificity.  Leaders working with African American families, for instance, wanted to focus on keeping the father connected to the family, since many such men have not grown up with involved fathers and may lack appropriate role models.  Another type of informal modification was abbreviating the material to fit within a short sequence of workshop sessions.  To increase the visibility of the OMI and pique interest in the material, the initiative offered large one- to two-day workshops to the community.  Rather than using a standard modified curriculum for these events, leaders would highlight what they viewed as the most important points of PREP®. 

Over time, however, the OMI also identified a need for more extensive, formal adaptations to the curriculum.  PREP® is a flexible program that can be readily adjusted for language and other minor changes, but more substantial adaptations appeared to be necessary for implementation in certain populations.  In the OMI, these populations included single mothers, incarcerated individuals, new parents, youth, and adoptive or foster parents and parents of special needs children.  For some populations, certain elements of PREP®  such as exercises that required individuals to work with their partners  were infeasible because they were either not in relationships or not participating with their partners.  In addition, these populations often face specific issues not covered in the standard PREP® curriculum.  The PREP® curriculum developers thus worked with the OMI to create three formal adaptations for these populations:  

  • Within My Reach (WMR).  Within My Reach is a formal adaptation of PREP®, created by the original curriculum developers in consultation with PSI staff and experts on domestic violence and low-income women.  The curriculum was designed to address the needs of single, economically disadvantaged individuals who may have a history of unhealthy or abusive relationships.  In Oklahoma, it is currently offered to single mothers receiving TANF and incarcerated women, including those in a substance abuse treatment center at a womens prison, but could potentially be used with other groups.  The focus is on helping participants recognize and develop healthy relationships.  Those in relationships are encouraged to strengthen and sustain existing relationships, or if the relationship is unhealthy or dangerous, safely leave.  The curriculum also helps participants prepare for future relationships, by examining past relationships, practicing relationship skills, and creating a vision of the relationship they would like to have.
  • Connections+PREP®[7]. To offer youth-appropriate marriage education services, the OMI partnered with the developers of Connections  a relationship curriculum for high school students  and PREP®.  The result was Connections-PREP®, which had two versions: Dating and Emotions, a 17-hour curriculum for grades 8-10, and Relationships and Marriage, an 18-hour curriculum for high school grades 11 and 12.  The Dating and Emotions Curriculum is designed to help teens recognize and understand healthy dating practices and learn to regulate the intense emotions that often accompany adolescent dating.  Youth examine why they are interested in dating, learn how to identify abusive or unhealthy behaviors, and determine whether a relationship is working.  The Relationships and Marriage curriculum is intended to help older teens learn what it means to form and sustain a healthy relationship, marriage, and family life.  Teens are encouraged to explore the effect of family experiences on expectations for marriage and relationships and to improve relationship skills, such as communication and conflict resolution.
  • ENRICH and PREP®.  Recognizing that adoptive families are faced with distinct challenges, OMI workshop leaders created an adaptation of PREP® tailored to their needs.  It includes an inventory of couples relationship issues, known as ENRICH.  The inventory assesses personality factors and identifies significant areas for relationship improvement.  Administered by a trained counselor, the results are discussed in a facilitated conversation with each couple.  To address the special issues of adoptive families, the PREP® material was modified to include examples specific to adoptive families and address issues peculiar to their circumstances, such as meeting the special needs of the adoptive child, integrating the child into the family, and how adoption may affect the couples relationship. 

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