Early Lessons from the Implementation of a Relationship and Marriage Skills Program for Low-Income Married Couples

Publication Date: September 15, 2010


This report presents early implementation and operational lessons from the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) evaluation. Funded by the Administration for Children and Families, SHM uses a rigorous research design to test the effectiveness of a new approach to improving outcomes for low-income children: strengthening the marriages and relationships of their parents as a foundation for family well-being. It also uses implementation research to document and assess how the organizations that were selected to be in the study are implementing the SHM model. The SHM model is for low-income married couples and includes three components: relationship and marriage education workshops that teach strategies for managing conflict and effective communication, supplemental activities that build on workshop themes and skills through educational and social events, and family support services that pair couples with specialized staff who facilitate participation and connect couples with needed services. In the first year of program implementation, SHM providers focused on three main tasks: developing effective marketing and recruitment strategies, keeping couples engaged in the program, and building management structures and systems. Lessons in these three areas from implementation analyses are the focus of this report.

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