Design, Sites, and Data Sources
The Supporting Healthy Marriage project has several stages. In the study design and program development stage, research team members and consultants, in conjunction with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), decided upon the type of intervention to be tested and the specific target groups for the project. The goal was to place priority on program models that will help build knowledge about what works for low-income couples and that local program operators expressed an interest in implementing at a large scale.
After the initial planning stage, the SHM research team provided technical assistance to eight Supporting Healthy Marriage local programs. These programs completed the pilot phase and were selected by ACF to move into the full-scale evaluation phase of the demonstration. This technical assistance included working with program managers to train staff, providing Web-based guidance on program implementation, and developing management information systems to help track services. The lead agencies of the eight Supporting Healthy Marriage local programs were:
- University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida
- Catholic Charities, Wichita, Kansas
- University Behavioral Associates, Bronx, New York
- Public Strategies, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Community Prevention Partnership, Reading, Pennsylvania
- Health and Human Services Commission, Austin, Texas
- Becoming Parents Program, Seattle, Washington
- Center for Human Services, Shoreline, Washington
After being selected into the evaluation, Supporting Healthy Marriage local programs randomly assigned interested couples to program and control groups. Since this process started, the research team has been collecting data on both the implementation and the impacts of the program. The team is currently in the process of analyzing the data and writing reports and other publications presenting the findings from the first wave of follow-up data (collected about 12 months after couples entered the programs). A second wave of follow-up data is being collected roughly 30 months after couples entered the programs. The major data sources for the research include data on families’ characteristics when they enter the study, follow-up surveys and direct assessment of outcomes for couples and their children, program records documenting couples’ participation in program activities, observation of program activities, and interviews with program staff.