Although most children raised by single parents fare well, on average, they are at greater risk of living in poverty and experiencing health, academic, and behavioral problems than children growing up with married biological parents. If interventions can improve the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships and increase the likelihood that they remain together, these interventions might also improve the well-being of their children. One possible approach to improving child well-being is thus strengthening the relationships of low-income couples through relationship skills education.
The Building Strong Families (BSF) project, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been evaluating this kind of approach. The project developed, implemented, and tested voluntary programs that offer relationship skills education and other support services to unwed couples who are expecting a child or who have just had a baby. Eight organizations volunteered to be part of a rigorous evaluation designed to test a new strategy to improve the lives of low-income families. These organizations implemented BSF programs around the country, complying with a set of research-based program guidelines.