Design for an Impact Study of Five Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs and Strategies

April 3, 2018
Topics:
Strengthening Families, Healthy Marriage & Responsible Fatherhood
Projects:
Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS), 2015-2020 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Design for an Impact Study of Five Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs and Strategies Cover
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  • File Size 1mb
  • Pages 52
  • Published 2018

Introduction

The federal government has had a long-standing commitment to supporting healthy relationships and stable families. In the mid-1990s, Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, which had the formation and maintenance of two-parent families as one of its core purposes. TANF provided states with the funding and flexibility to support activities to promote healthy marriage. Beginning in the mid-2000s, the federal government began providing additional funding specifically to support healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) services. The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) in the Administration for Children & Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees these funds and distributes them through a set of competitive multi-year grants to organizations nationwide. OFA made the most recent round of HMRE grant awards in September 2015. These grants support HMRE services for a mix of populations, including youth in high school, individual adults, and adult couples.

Purpose

The Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS) evaluation is a five-site, random assignment evaluation of HMRE programs funded by OFA, with evaluation sites selected from the current round of HMRE grantees. STREAMS will examine the full range of populations served by HMRE programming, including programs serving high school youth and those serving adults as individuals and as couples. The goal of STREAMS is to expand the evidence base by filling gaps in knowledge about the effectiveness of HMRE programming and by identifying strategies for improving the delivery and effectiveness of these programs. This report describes the design of the STREAMS evaluation in each of five study sites, which represent the full range of populations served through the HMRE grant program.

Research Questions and Methods

Each STREAMS site will function as a separate study within the larger evaluation, each addressing a distinct research question:

More Than Conquerors, Inc.

What is the effect of offering relationship skills education as part of a regular high school curriculum? How does abbreviating the curriculum influence program effects?

Family and Workforce Centers of America

What is the effect of an integrated approach to relationship education and economic stability services?

University of Denver

What is the effect of offering relationship skills education and other support services to low-income pregnant women and new mothers?

The Parenting Center

How does an integrated approach to relationship skills and economic stability services affect the outcomes of participating couples?

University of Florida

Can text messages informed by behavioral insight theory improve attendance at relationship skills education group sessions for couples?

The evaluation team will analyze data and report findings separately for each site to maximize the study’s contribution to the evidence base. The STREAMS evaluation includes both a random assignment impact study and an in-depth process study based on qualitative and quantitative data.

Citation

Wood, Robert G., Brian Goesling, and Diane Paulsell (2018). Design for an Impact Study of Five Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs and Strategies, OPRE Report # 2018-32, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Last Reviewed: March 29, 2018