This paper presents findings from in-depth interviews with 16 couples who participated in the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) program. Couples reported benefiting from SHM’s focus on communication and conflict management, but financial needs and lack of social supports placed stress on their relationships throughout their tenure in SHM.
Exploratory Subgroup Analysis in the Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation
This paper explores effects of the Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) program for six subgroups of couples in the study. SHM’s impacts were generally consistent across these subgroups, though some evidence suggests that couples whose marriages were more distressed at study entry may have benefited more from SHM.
Final Impacts from the Supporting Healthy Marriage Evaluation
Supporting Healthy Marriage (SHM) was a yearlong voluntary marriage education program to help strengthen couples’ relationships. SHM had small sustained positive effects on marital quality more than a year after the program ended but did not achieve its objectives of leading more couples to stay together or improving children’s well-being.
Past and ongoing research offers direction for how to strengthen the most basic foundation for early childhood development: family relationships. Part of our “Looking Forward” series, this policy memo makes the case for building on this accumulating evidence to create new and innovative approaches to support children’s earliest years and the unique role of fathers.
Eight programs, in various settings, successfully implemented a voluntary package of relationship skills services for low-income married couples with children, engaging a diverse group of couples who participated for eight months on average. A companion report finds that the programs produced a pattern of small, positive effects on couples’ relationships after 12 months.
This report, which presents 12-month impact results from a demonstration designed to strengthen marriages among low-income married couples with children, shows that the program produced a consistent pattern of small, positive effects on multiple aspects of couples’ relationships, including measures of relationship quality, psychological and physical abuse, and adult individual psychological distress.
What Two Rigorous Studies Tell Us
This synthesis reviews findings from two rigorous, large-scale evaluations — the Professional Development in Reading Study and the Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study. Both interventions had only limited effects on teachers’ knowledge and instruction and no impacts on students’ test scores. The report ends with suggestions about how professional development might be improved to achieve better results.
Resources for Program Operators from the Supporting Healthy Marriage Demonstration and Evaluation
Developed for sites participating in a federal demonstration and evaluation of relationship and marriage skills programs for low-income married couples, this toolkit offers practical guidance about program design, management, and marketing, among other topics. It may be particularly useful for voluntary programs focusing on family relationships, couples, or fatherhood.
An important first hurdle for voluntary programs is recruiting and retaining eligible participants. This report describes how ten Supporting Healthy Marriage programs focused on developing effective marketing strategies, keeping couples engaged in the program, and building management systems. These efforts resulted in encouraging early levels of participation by low-income couples.
What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?
This working paper, prepared for a conference sponsored by the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, reviews evidence about the effectiveness of two strategies to strengthen family relationships and fathers’ involvement with their children: fatherhood programs aimed at disadvantaged noncustodial fathers and relationship skills programs for parents who are together.