Building Strong Families (BSF) was the first large-scale evaluation of a relationship skills education program for unmarried low-income parents. Sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it ran from 2002 to 2013. It tested a voluntary program that served unmarried, romantically involved couples who were expecting or had recently had a baby. Its goal was to help unmarried new parents strengthen their relationships (and fulfill their aspirations for a healthy marriage, if they wished to marry) with the ultimate objective of creating a stable and healthy home environment for their children.
The evaluation of BSF used a rigorous, random assignment research design to test not only whether the overall program worked (averaging across its eight sites), but also to investigate which sites were more effective than others — results that provide clues about which approaches to BSF were most effective.
To learn more about BSF and discuss the findings, we’re joined by Robert G. Wood, a Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research and the lead author of the final, 36-month BSF evaluation report. He was also the lead author of the 15-month report, results that were later published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.