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Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

Healthy Relationships and Marriages
The Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative (ACHMI) is funded by a competitive 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance. It is a partnership between Auburn University, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the Family Resource Center Network, the Montgomery chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, a consortium of State Agencies and a growing network of public, non-profit, and faith-based community organizations and individuals who have joined together to build and sustain healthy relationships and stable marriages throughout Alabama.

ACHMI's goal is to strengthen Alabama families by:

  • Raising public awareness of the importance of healthy, stable relationships and marriages for children, family and community well-being.
  • Increasing access to healthy relationship/marriage resources for all Alabama citizens.
  • Training community members and professionals in research-based educational programs that strengthen relationships and marriages.

Healthy relationships and strong marriages are for everyone! We provide programming for youth, non-married parents, pre-marital couples, stepfamilies and married couples. There is mounting research evidence that the trends of increasing marital and family instability have a negative impact on children, adults, families, and their communities. The research is clear: healthy relationships and marriages, and resulting family stability benefit the physical, social, and emotional well-being of adults and children. Even though we know that healthy couples lead to healthy families and healthy children, there has been little effort to systematically provide educational resources and prevention programming that focuses on relationship skills for couples and individuals. ACHMI is focused on ensuring that this important area is not a "missing link" in family life education and prevention programming in Alabama. Real Teen Relationships


The Alabama Marriage and Family Project
The Center for Children, Youth, and Families in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University has received $950,000 from the Compassion Capital Fund, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to launch the Alabama Marriage and Family Project (AMFP). Through the AMFP, faculty with the Center for Children, Youth, and Families, together with colleagues from the College of Business, the AU Economic Development Institute, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Alabama Children's Trust Fund will serve as an intermediary organization and work directly with community professionals and faith-based and community-based organizations on organizational development, leadership development, fund development, community collaboration, and the program design/implementation of vital family programs and services that promote individual and relational strengths among youth and adults, and in turn, promote family stability and community well-being.

Activities of the AMFP will include: regional training conferences; distance-learning tools; the establishment of a web-based AMFP Resource Center; sub-awards in the amount of $390,000 given directly to Alabama FBO/CBOs for capacity-building activities; intensive, customized technical assistance given to sub-award agencies to build capacity and develop coalitions; and the documentation of the AMFP implementation and program impact. Anticipated results of the project will be the increased capacity of participating FBO/CBOs to address issues critical to long-term viability so that they are better prepared and positioned to understand and meet the needs of their communities. It is also expected that participating FBO/CBOs will build capacity to provide services and programs that support healthy relationships, marriages, 2-parent involvement, and family stability.

These are clearly demonstrated and critical needs of citizens throughout Alabama and FBO/CBOs have a keen interest in understanding more about how to address these issues. The project will also result in concrete capacity-building tools – web-based and distance-learning – that will continue to be utilized beyond the initial 17-month project period. Project Director is Francesca Adler-Baeder, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Human Development and Family Studies Department. Project staff include Hope Stockton, College of Business; Clint Lenoir, College of Business; Joe Sumners, EDI; Mike Easterwood, EDI, Jonathan Davis, ACES; and Jennifer Kerpelman, HDFS. Project advisors include Dean Henton, College of Human Sciences; Dean Sauser, College of Business; Marilyn Bradbard, HDFS, and Marian Loftin, Alabama Children's Trust Fund.


The Healthy Couples, Healthy Children: Targeting Youth Research Project
The Center for Children, Youth, and Families in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Auburn University has received $974,347 from the Healthy Marriage Research Initiative, Office for Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a 5-year applied research study focused on the implementation and impact of a youth-focused relationships/marriage education program. This educational program is supported by the Alabama Children's Trust Fund and is offered with the cooperation with the State Department of Education.

The aim of this unprecedented study is to use a rigorous, experimental, longitudinal research design and an iterative approach to program implementation and simultaneously (1) document program impact on youth’s knowledge and skills related to healthy dating relationships and healthy marriages in the immediate and over a sustained period, (2) determine the factors related to positive outcomes, and (3) establish a model of best practices for marriage education work with adolescents that includes appropriate and effective content and methods for working with low income and minority youth. Principal Investigator is Jennifer Kerpelman; Co-Principal Investigators are Francesca Adler-Baeder and Joe Pittman.


Support Healthy Marriages in Step and Blended Families Project
A grant award in the amount of $300,000 from the Office for Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was received by Abt Associates and its collaborator and subcontractor, the Center for Children, Youth, and Families, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University for the Support Healthy Marriages in Step and Blended Families Project. Based on an extensive review of research literature and information gathered from studies of existing practices, the project work will focus on the development of a conceptual framework and national model to inform educational work and interventions to support healthy relationships and marriages among low-income married stepfamilies and unmarried blended families. Principal Investigator for the project is Francesca Adler-Baeder, HDFS.


The Family Connections in Alabama Project
In order to promote desirable child support outcomes and better the chances for Alabama children's healthy development, the Children's Trust Fund (CTF), in partnership with the Alabama Office of Child Support Enforcement, Alabama A & M University's Family Life Center in Huntsville, and the Human Development and Family Studies Department at Auburn University has received $300,000 in funding from the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement, Department of Health and Human Services for a 3-year Special Improvement Project. The Family Connections in Alabama (FCA) project will be implemented through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System's Family Life Center in Huntsville and will build on lessons learned from the first federal SIP grant received by CTF and the HDFS department in 2003. The 2005-2008 project will specifically target African-American and Hispanic nonmarried parents who are IV-D clients and who have a youngest child age 2 or younger. Through coordination with the Gottman Research Institute, facilitators will be trained to provide the newly-developed, research-based "Loving Couples, Loving Families" relationships/marriage education curriculum. This curriculum is based on studies of marital/relational quality and stability, fragile families and the barriers to family stability, and parenting in the context of couple relationships. Supplemental program content will include negotiating multiple co-parenting relationships, stepparenting, regulating emotions in conflict and when under stress, and recognizing abusive relationships. The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence will provide training in the domestic violence protocol to be used in the proposed project to ensure a "do no harm" policy. Child support workers will provide educational sessions on child support services. Evaluation methods will include the use of a comparison group to study the impact of the project. It is expected that program participants, as compared to non-participants will have higher rates of paternity and order establishment and collections. In addition, it is expected that program participants, as compared to non-participants will have better relationship skills, higher relationship quality, more knowledge about unhealthy and unsafe relationship patterns, more positive parenting approaches, and higher rates of healthy family formation and stability across time.

Principal Investigator for the project is Francesca Adler-Baeder, HDFS.