Oklahoma Marriage Initiative (OMI): Putting Marriage on the Agenda: How Oklahoma Laid the Foundation for Its Marriage Initiative. The OMI by 2003


By the end of 2002, the OMI had an institutional base, a regular source of funding and, through a strong public-private partnership, was well on its way toward developing statewide capacity to provide marriage skills education. Support and funding for the OMI continued under the states new governor Brad Henry, who was elected that year. Governor Henry asked Howard Hendrick to stay on as DHS Director, and also appointed him as the states Secretary for Human Services. Thus the prominent level of leadership for the OMI, which was established when the OMI first began and extended to the governors office, has continued.

Other briefs in this series describe how the OMI service delivery system was developed and implemented, along with its recent evolution and current program activities. One brief discuss efforts to build research into the OMIs design and implementation. Oklahoma recruited state and national experts on marriage, divorce, and low-income families to serve on the Research Advisory Group, which has played an ongoing role in the OMI. The state also collected data to inform the development of its initiative, including conducting a comprehensive statewide survey to assess baseline attitudes among its citizens toward marriage; family demographics; experiences with marriage education; and general openness to a marriage initiative. The brief also considers whether or how states might improve their use of research in the development and operation of marriage initiatives.

Evaluation Methodology for the OMI Process Study
Information reported in the OMI research brief series is based on an analysis of data gathered during an ongoing multiyear study of the initiatives design, development, and implementation. Study methodologies include semi-structured interviews with individuals and groups, direct observation of program operations, focus groups with staff and participants, and secondary analysis of data from existing reports and surveys. The research team will meet directly with some 160 individuals involved with the OMI in various ways, focusing on implementation in the education, social services, health, and community volunteer sectors, and including a special emphasis on OMI services within the states correctional system. Mathematicas research team is led by M. Robin Dion, and includes Alan M. Hershey, Debra A. Strong, Heather Zaveri, Sarah Avellar, Nikki Aikens, and Timothy Silman.

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