Piloting a Community Approach to Healthy Marriage Initiatives: Early Implementation of the Healthy Families Nampa Demonstration

Publication Date: October 15, 2005


The Community Healthy Marriage Initiative (CHMI) is a key component of the demonstration strategy of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to determine how public policies can best support healthy marriages. Two concepts underlie the CHMI strategy. One is that community coalitions can be an effective vehicle for developing a range of healthy marriage and healthy family activities, including classes that build relationship skills, but also partnerships with clergy and others, celebration days, and media messages about the value of marriage and healthy families. The second is that communities with a critical mass of such activities can exert positive family impacts on individuals and couples directly through their participation in classes and other services and indirectly through their interactions with friends, family, and others in the community who were themselves influenced by a local marriage-related activity sponsored by the local coalition. The goals of the 1115 healthy marriage initiatives are to achieve child support objectives through healthy marriage activities.

This report focuses on the role of community coalitions in supporting healthy marriage activities and presents a description and analysis of the early implementation of the section 1115 child support waiver demonstration in Nampa, Idaho, a city of nearly 70,000 people. This report provides evidence that a local community coalition can leverage sufficient resources to stimulate a substantial amount of marriage-related and family relationship activities at a modest cost. This report does not address the question of impacts on marriage or child support outcomes of participants or others in the community. Healthy Families Nampa’s initial operations should be viewed as a pilot of community approaches to healthy marriage that, given time and available funding, could develop into a full-scale community healthy marriage initiative (CHMI).

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