Tips for Leveraging Partnerships to Improve Recruitment for Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs

Tips for Leveraging Partnerships to Improve Recruitment for Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Programs

SIMR Practice Brief, OPRE Report #2023-053
Published: Feb 28, 2023
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 the Implementation of Marriage and Relationship Programs

Time frame: 2019-2022

Prepared for:

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

Clients
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Authors

Rebecca Dunn

Hannah McInerney

Sheila Cavallo

Adilia McManus

Lauren Mattox

Key Findings

Many healthy marriage and relationship education (HMRE) programs and similar programs might struggle to recruit and enroll participants. This is often the first challenge new programs encounter as they move from planning to implementing their services. HMRE services can be unfamiliar to many people, potentially making them reluctant to enroll in HMRE programs. Recruitment can be especially challenging for programs serving hard-to-reach communities with residents who might be “system shy” or distrustful of services because of negative experiences with child support enforcement, immigration authorities, or the justice system — among others. Because of these challenges, an important component of many successful recruitment strategies is to develop partnerships with other organizations in the community that can refer potential participants to the program. Partnerships with organizations and agencies that are trusted by the community can help programs reach participants. This brief describes a six-step process to help HMRE programs identify, engage, and strengthen referral partnerships with community organizations.

The partnership tips in this brief are drawn from work conducted with Anthem Strong Families, Family Service Agency-Santa Barbara (FSA-SB), and Gateway Community Action in the Strengthening the Implementation of Marriage and Relationship Programs (SIMR) study. These are HMRE grant recipients funded by the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) and based in Dallas, Texas; Santa Barbara, California; and West Liberty, Kentucky - respectively. These organizations participated in rapid cycle learning to strengthening their recruitment partnerships. The SIMR project has two related goals: (1) to improve the service delivery of grant recipients in the study and (2) to develop lessons from the broader HMRE field about promising practices for addressing common implementation challenges, including challenges related to recruitment, retention, and content engagement.

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