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  • Individual Author: Moore, Quinn; Wood, Robert G.; Clarkwest, Andrew; Killewald, Alexandra; Monahan, Shannon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    This report is a technical supplement to the 36-month impact report for the Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation (Wood et al. 2012). It provides additional detail about the research design, analytic methods, and variable construction that were used for the 36-month analysis, as well as a discussion of the subgroup analysis that was conducted. Additionally, the report discusses the treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) impact analysis, an analysis of BSF’s effects on couples who actually attended BSF group sessions. The full set of impact results generated as part of the 36-month analysis is included in the appendices of this volume. Restricted use data files and documentation are available through the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research. (author abstract)

    This report is a technical supplement to the 36-month impact report for the Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation (Wood et al. 2012). It provides additional detail about the research design, analytic methods, and variable construction that were used for the 36-month analysis, as well as a discussion of the subgroup analysis that was conducted. Additionally, the report discusses the treatment-on-the-treated (TOT) impact analysis, an analysis of BSF’s effects on couples who actually attended BSF group sessions. The full set of impact results generated as part of the 36-month analysis is included in the appendices of this volume. Restricted use data files and documentation are available through the Inter-University Consortium of Political and Social Research. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wood, Robert G.; Moore, Quinn; Clarkwest, Andrew; Killewald, Alexandra; Monahan, Shannon
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2012

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation assessed the impacts of eight programs offering a similar model of healthy marriage and relationship skills and support services to interested low-income unmarried parents around the time of the birth of a child.  While many unmarried parents live together when their children are born, their relationships are often tenuous and most end within a few years of the child’s birth. Research suggests that children do better when raised by both of their parents in healthy environments.  The BSF program model included curricula-based group workshops on relationship skills; individual support from family coordinators; and assessment and referral to other needed services. The key question addressed through the BSF evaluation is whether the interventions improved the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships, increased the likelihood that they remained together, and improved the well-being of children. This report presents final impact results from data collected 36 months after couples enrolled in the study.  A separate technical supplement...

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) evaluation assessed the impacts of eight programs offering a similar model of healthy marriage and relationship skills and support services to interested low-income unmarried parents around the time of the birth of a child.  While many unmarried parents live together when their children are born, their relationships are often tenuous and most end within a few years of the child’s birth. Research suggests that children do better when raised by both of their parents in healthy environments.  The BSF program model included curricula-based group workshops on relationship skills; individual support from family coordinators; and assessment and referral to other needed services. The key question addressed through the BSF evaluation is whether the interventions improved the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships, increased the likelihood that they remained together, and improved the well-being of children. This report presents final impact results from data collected 36 months after couples enrolled in the study.  A separate technical supplement details the analytic approaches and includes additional analyses. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wood, Robert G.; Moore, Quinn; Clarkwest, Andrew
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2011

    Building Strong Families (BSF), a program of relationship skills education for unwed parents, has been found in a rigorous random assignment evaluation to have limited effects on couples who signed up for the program (Wood, McConnell, et al. 2010). Averaging results across the eight local programs that participated in the evaluation, BSF had no effect on the couples’ relationship quality or on the likelihood that they would remain romantically involved or get married 15 months after they enrolled in the program. When impacts were examined separately for the eight programs, only one was found to have a consistent pattern of positive effects on couples’ relationships, while another was found to have negative effects.

    These results, however, leave us with an unanswered question of wide interest, because not all couples randomly assigned to receive BSF services actually participated. The core BSF service was group workshops on relationship skills, and across all evaluation sites about 45 percent of the couples assigned to the program group never attended even one workshop...

    Building Strong Families (BSF), a program of relationship skills education for unwed parents, has been found in a rigorous random assignment evaluation to have limited effects on couples who signed up for the program (Wood, McConnell, et al. 2010). Averaging results across the eight local programs that participated in the evaluation, BSF had no effect on the couples’ relationship quality or on the likelihood that they would remain romantically involved or get married 15 months after they enrolled in the program. When impacts were examined separately for the eight programs, only one was found to have a consistent pattern of positive effects on couples’ relationships, while another was found to have negative effects.

    These results, however, leave us with an unanswered question of wide interest, because not all couples randomly assigned to receive BSF services actually participated. The core BSF service was group workshops on relationship skills, and across all evaluation sites about 45 percent of the couples assigned to the program group never attended even one workshop session. BSF was a voluntary program and voluntary programs, particularly those serving low-income families, often have low participation rates (McCurdy and Daro 2001; Myers et al. 1992; Garvey et al. 2006). Even so, it is natural to ask whether BSF had any effects on the couples who did attend group sessions.

    The analysis finds no strong evidence of effects on couples who attended group sessions. Among those who attended at least one group session, there were no statistically significant effects on the key relationship outcomes. Among the smaller group of couples who attended at least half of the group sessions offered, there was no strong evidence of effects, with one exception. BSF appears to have increased the likelihood that these couples would be living together (married or unmarried) at the 15-month follow-up—with an impact on this outcome of 7 to 10 percentage points. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dion, M. Robin; Avellar, Sarah A.; Clary, Elizabeth
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and rigorously test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the families of unmarried couples with children. BSF programs were implemented by non-profit and public agencies at 12 locations in seven states, and enrolled more than 5,000 volunteer couples, who were randomly assigned by the BSF research team to an intervention or control group. The intervention featured up to 42 hours of multi-couple group sessions led by trained facilitators, focusing on skills that, according to earlier research, are associated with relationship and marital stability and satisfaction. The BSF project grew out of research in four areas: demographic shifts in family formation; the consequences of those shifts for the well-being of children; the needs and circumstances of low-income families; and the potential of relationship education for strengthening the families of unmarried couples.

    The purpose of this Executive Summary and the accompanying report is to document the design and implementation of...

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project was launched in 2002 to develop, implement, and rigorously test voluntary interventions aimed at strengthening the families of unmarried couples with children. BSF programs were implemented by non-profit and public agencies at 12 locations in seven states, and enrolled more than 5,000 volunteer couples, who were randomly assigned by the BSF research team to an intervention or control group. The intervention featured up to 42 hours of multi-couple group sessions led by trained facilitators, focusing on skills that, according to earlier research, are associated with relationship and marital stability and satisfaction. The BSF project grew out of research in four areas: demographic shifts in family formation; the consequences of those shifts for the well-being of children; the needs and circumstances of low-income families; and the potential of relationship education for strengthening the families of unmarried couples.

    The purpose of this Executive Summary and the accompanying report is to document the design and implementation of BSF programs, report on services received by the program group to which the intervention was offered, analyze characteristics of couples and programs that may affect participation, and describe the experiences of program group couples. A report on the effectiveness of BSF—its impacts on the lives of couples and their children—is expected in 2010. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Wood, Robert G.; McConnell, Sheena; Moore, Quinn; Clarkwest, Andrew; Hsueh, JoAnn
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2010

    Although most children raised by single parents fare well, on average, they are at greater risk of living in poverty and experiencing health, academic, and behavioral problems than children growing up with married biological parents. If interventions can improve the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships and increase the likelihood that they remain together, these interventions might also improve the well-being of their children. One possible approach to improving child well-being is thus strengthening the relationships of low-income couples through relationship skills education.

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been evaluating this kind of approach. The project developed, implemented, and tested voluntary programs that offer relationship skills education and other support services to unwed couples who are expecting a child or who have just had a baby. Eight organizations volunteered to be part of a rigorous evaluation designed to test a new...

    Although most children raised by single parents fare well, on average, they are at greater risk of living in poverty and experiencing health, academic, and behavioral problems than children growing up with married biological parents. If interventions can improve the quality of unmarried parents’ relationships and increase the likelihood that they remain together, these interventions might also improve the well-being of their children. One possible approach to improving child well-being is thus strengthening the relationships of low-income couples through relationship skills education.

    The Building Strong Families (BSF) project, sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been evaluating this kind of approach. The project developed, implemented, and tested voluntary programs that offer relationship skills education and other support services to unwed couples who are expecting a child or who have just had a baby. Eight organizations volunteered to be part of a rigorous evaluation designed to test a new strategy to improve the lives of low-income families. These organizations implemented BSF programs around the country, complying with a set of research-based program guidelines. (author abstract)