Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education with Integrated Economic Stability Services: The Impacts of Empowering Families

Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education with Integrated Economic Stability Services: The Impacts of Empowering Families

OPRE Report #2021-224
Published: Nov 30, 2021
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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Associated Project

Strengthening Relationship Education and Marriage Services (STREAMS) Evaluation

Time frame: 2015-2022

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

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Key Findings
  • Empowering Families was successful in its central goal of strengthening couples’ relationships. The program improved all five dimensions of relationship quality we examined, including the level of support and affection partners felt toward each other, their use of constructive conflict behaviors, their avoidance of destructive conflict behaviors, and the level of commitment and happiness they felt toward their relationship one year after entering the program. It also improved the quality of couples’ co-parenting relationships.
  • Empowering Families increased marriage among initially unmarried couples.
  • Empowering Families reduced the number of economic hardships experienced by families in the program.
  • Exploratory analyses suggest that Empowering Families improved participants’ ability to manage their money, particularly for women.
  • Exploratory analyses suggests that Empowering Families increased disapproval of couple violence for both women and men; however, rates of intimate partner violence were unaffected.

Mathematica and its partner Public Strategies have collaborated with The Parenting Center in Fort Worth, Texas, a community-based social service provider, to conduct an impact study of its Empowering Families program. Empowering Families integrates economic stability services—including, employment services and financial education—with HMRE content for couples with low incomes who are raising children together. The Empowering Families program included an eight-session workshop that integrated HMRE content with information on financial literacy and job and career advancement. This report is the second in a series of two reports on the implementation and impacts of Empowering Families. It describes the program’s impacts after one year.

These impacts were estimated by comparing the outcomes of couples who were randomly assigned to either a group that was offered Empowering Families services or a control group that was not. At the one-year follow-up, we found that Empowering Families improved all aspects of couples’ relationship quality that we examined.

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