Performance Improvement 2006. Service Delivery and Evaluation Design Options for Strengthening and Promoting Healthy Marriages


Increasing access to marriage education services is a major objective within the Healthy Marriage Initiative. A major goal of this project was to provide Administration for Children and Families (ACF) with better information about the range of existing programs, and to identify opportunities for potential expansion of services to low-income couples and individuals. In the course of the project, the researchers conducted telephone discussions with key staff in 58 different programs and conducted visits to 28 programs. The report presents the authors’ assessment of key factors to understanding how marriage education programs are implemented, in terms of the setting and organizational structure, the intervention (approach, format, curriculum), and population served. In examining potential opportunities for expansion, the authors suggest two possible approaches, each with challenges: expanding the number of marriage education programs to include low-income couples, or enabling and encouraging programs otherwise serving low-income couples to incorporate marriage education into their traditional work. Both would need to build internal capacity to address the new situation - addressing the needs of a new target population for marriage education programs, and building knowledge and skills related to marriage education among staff within other service programs. They suggest that ACF consider a framework for expansion that combines the expertise of providers currently offering marriage education services with that of providers with expertise in serving low-income populations, in order to build on both sets of providers’ strengths.

PIC ID: 8224; Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation; Federal Contact: Campbell, Nancye, 202-401-5760; Performer: The Urban Institute, Washington, DC

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