Developing Strategies to Address Implementation Challenges Facing Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Grantees
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- The ten HMRE grantees participating in SIMR represent a mix of demonstrations serving adult couples and individuals and youth in school-based and community settings. They serve a diverse range of participants, including pregnant and parenting youth, Spanish-speaking couples with low-incomes, and people involved with the criminal justice system. They operate in a variety of settings across the country that include both urban and rural areas.
- Five grantees (four adult-serving and one youth-serving grantee) are working with the SIMR team to address recruitment challenges, such as encouraging male partners to enroll in services designed for Spanish-speaking couples and recruiting people with romantic partners who are incarcerated.
- Three youth-serving grantees are using rapid-cycle learning to address content engagement challenges, such as co-facilitating large workshops and reinforcing curriculum content with school-based case management.
- Two grantees (one youth-serving and one adult-serving grantee) are addressing retention and content engagement challenges by developing high-quality virtual versions of their services, which they began providing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To be successful, Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (HMRE) grantees need to design and implement services that keep their participants and potential participants engaged from initial contact through service completion. However, encouraging participants to continue making progress in these services can be challenging. Common challenges for HMRE grantees related to participants’ journeys through programming stem from a variety of causes and often fall into three broad areas: (1) recruiting adequate numbers of participants, (2) encouraging participants to attend workshop sessions regularly and complete services, and (3) providing content that is engaging and relevant for participants.
The Strengthening the Implementation of Marriage and Relationship Programs (SIMR) project is designed to strengthen the capacity of HMRE grantees to help the youth and adult populations they serve, specifically by supporting HMRE grantees to address common implementation challenges. The project aims to identify key implementation challenges facing HMRE grantees and, in close collaboration with HMRE grantees and their staff, develop and test strategies to address them using rapid-cycle learning techniques. Through this work, SIMR will also develop lessons for the broader HMRE field about promising practices for addressing common implementation challenges.