15-Month Impacts of Oklahoma's Family Expectations Program.

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Devaney, Barbara.
Dion, Robin.
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Mathematica Policy Research.
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Family Expectations (FE) is a program in Oklahoma City designed to strengthen the relationships of low-income couples who are expecting a baby or have just had a baby. For all families, this period is typically full of promise but also vulnerability. FE is one of eight sites that are participating in a large national evaluation of Building Strong Families (BSF), a federally funded program for unmarried parents. The underlying rationale for BSF is that relationship skills education and family support services provided to unmarried parents in a romantic relationship will help them learn how to communicate better, resolve conflicts constructively, and end up with a stronger, healthier, and long-lasting relationship. Stronger relationships, in turn, are expected to improve family outcomes and child well-being. This report presents findings from both an analysis of the implementation experience of FE and a rigorous evaluation of program impacts on couple and family outcomes. As part of the evaluation, more than 1,000 unmarried couples volunteered for FE; roughly half of them were randomly selected and offered the opportunity to participate in FE (the "program group"), while the other half was assigned to a control group. Fifteen months later, FE couples showed significantly greater improvement compared with control couples in their relationship, father involvement, co-parenting, and maternal psychological well-being. (Author abstract)

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