Parents and Children Together: Design and Implementation of Two Healthy Marriage Programs

OPRE Report 2016-63
Publisher: Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Oct 26, 2016
Heather Zaveri and Scott Baumgartner

Key Findings:

  • Relationship education workshops, which included both married and unmarried couples, were well attended. Combining data across programs, 85 percent of couples attended at least one session, and about 65 percent attended half or more of the sessions. 
  • Strong participation may have resulted from programmatic efforts to promote attendance and restricting eligibility to only couples who reported being in a committed relationship.
  • Both programs offered low-intensity services designed to improve participants’ economic well-being, including a brief stand-alone job and career advancement workshop. One also integrated job and career advancement content into the relationship skills workshop. 
  • Participation in the job and career advancement services was low, which may have reflected couples’ limited needs or preferences. At enrollment, both partners were unemployed in only 13 percent of couples across the two programs. Although earnings were generally low, it is possible that in many couples one of the partners was not seeking work.
Two Healthy Marriage grantees participating in PACT, the HOME Program in El Paso, Texas, and Supporting Healthy Relationships in the Bronx, New York, implemented programs that aimed to enhance participants’ relationship skills and economic and financial well-being. Each grantee strove to develop an approach to service delivery that would best meet the needs of its organization and the couples it enrolled. This report presents implementation lessons from the PACT enrollment period at the two programs and discusses considerations for future programming and evaluation.