The Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) evaluation was launched in 2003 to test the effectiveness of a skills-based relationship education program designed to help low-income married couples strengthen their relationships and, in turn, support more stable and more nurturing home environments and more positive outcomes for children. The evaluation is led by MDRC, in collaboration with Abt Associates and other partners, and is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The SHM evaluation includes a rigorous random assignment research design that compares outcomes for families who are offered SHM’s services with outcomes for a similar group of families who are not offered SHM services but can access other services in the community. The evaluation also includes this implementation study documenting how eight local programs delivered SHM’s services. The SHM program offers a voluntary, yearlong package of relationship and marriage education services for low-income married couples who have children or are expecting a child. The model has three complementary components: group workshops based on structured curricula; supplemental activities to build on workshop themes; and family support services to address participation barriers, connect families with needed resources, and reinforce curricular themes. This report presents final findings from the SHM implementation study, the characteristics of couples who enrolled, and their participation in the program.