Performance Improvement 2009. What Do Sites Look Like That Implement Healthy-Marriage Services for Unmarried Expectant Couples?


This implementation evaluation examined the operation of the healthy marriage services for expectant low-income couples as part of the Building Strong Families (BSF) project. BSF project sites modified a program to incorporate BSF principles, added BSF practices as a program within an array of multiple programs, or established a new entity with BSF methods as the sole program.

Sites implementing healthy-marriage services were successful at enrolling couples during pregnancy or within three months of delivery. The maternal health care system was the most common source for BSF recruitment (e.g. hospitals, clinics and doctors offices serving pregnant women or newborns and their mothers). The majority of couples were African American (58 percent), about a quarter was Hispanic, and about 14 percent were White. Seventy-two percent of BSF couples reported that they cohabited all or most of the time. Two-thirds of men and women were between 20 and 29 years of age. Over half of couples had no children from other relationships. Three-quarters of the fathers reported being employed at enrollment and 93 percent of them reported earnings in the year prior to enrollment. Sites had been successful in involving couples in the program. Ensuring regular attendance by couples at group meetings was a substantial challenge for some sites. Lack of participation was often due to scheduling problems. Couples found the healthy marriage services appealing and were enthusiastic about the facilitators and interacting with other couples. They reported that the program helped them improve their communication skills, and, ultimately, their relationships with their partners and children.

Report Title: Implementation of the Building Strong Families Program
Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Seth Chamberlain, 202-260-2242
Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
PIC ID: 8828

View full report


"PerformanceImprovement2009.pdf" (pdf, 1.26Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®