Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education for Expectant and New Mothers: The 30-Month Impacts of MotherWise
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- MotherWise had persistent positive impacts on women’s relationship skills and one of two measures of relationship attitudes at the 30-month follow-up. Compared to women in the control group, those who were offered the MotherWise program reported significantly better romantic relationship skills and conflict management skills and higher levels of disapproval of couple violence at 30 months, consistent with the one-year impacts on these outcomes.
- MotherWise increased relationship stability at the 30-month follow-up. During the 30 months after study enrollment, women in the MotherWise group experienced fewer relationship transitions—the total of their relationship start-ups and breakups—than did women in the control group.
- The program had no impacts on other relationship outcomes measured in the study. Women in the MotherWise and control groups reported similar levels of intimate partner violence, co-parenting quality, and maternal and child well-being at the 30-month follow-up. Women in both groups were equally likely to have experienced at least one unintended pregnancy during the 30 months after study enrollment.
To help build the evidence base on the diverse set of HMRE programs serving individual adults, this study examines MotherWise, a relationship skills program for women with low incomes who are pregnant or have just had a baby. This report describes the program’s impacts after 30 months, which were estimated by comparing the outcomes of women who were randomly assigned to either a group that was offered MotherWise services or a control group that was not. The report also provides information on program implementation and costs and documents the study methods. MotherWise had persistent impacts on women’s relationship skills and attitudes—the outcomes it most directly aimed to affect. Further, the program increased relationship stability during the 30-month follow-up period, which has the potential to support child well-being in the longer-term. However, MotherWise did not impact other outcomes such as women’s experiences of intimate partner violence, co-parenting quality, and unintended pregnancy, and children’s socio-emotional well-being at the 30-month follow-up. Mathematica and Public Strategies conducted this study as part of the Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS) evaluation for ACF.