The Building Strong Families (BSF) project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and rigorously test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the families of unmarried couples with children. BSF programs were implemented by non-profit and public agencies at 12 locations in seven states, and enrolled more than 5,000 volunteer couples, who were randomly assigned by the BSF research team to an intervention or control group. The intervention featured up to 42 hours of multi-couple group sessions led by trained facilitators, focusing on skills that, according to earlier research, are associated with relationship and marital stability and satisfaction. The BSF project grew out of research in four areas: demographic shifts in family formation; the consequences of those shifts for the well-being of children; the needs and circumstances of low-income families; and the potential of relationship education for strengthening the families of unmarried couples.
The purpose of this Executive Summary and the accompanying report is to document the design and implementation of BSF programs, report on services received by the program group to which the intervention was offered, analyze characteristics of couples and programs that may affect participation, and describe the experiences of program group couples. A report on the effectiveness of BSF—its impacts on the lives of couples and their children—is expected in 2010.