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 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.
Promoting responsible fatherhood as a means of improving child well-being is a growing policy priority. This strong interest suggests a need for additional research on the effectiveness of potential approaches to promoting this policy goal. The first and best source of support for a child is a nurturing two-parent family. However, when couples split up, child support can be a vital source of income for low-income, single-mother families.
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.