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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

 
CED Department of Educational and Human Sciences

Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families (SMSF)

'OnScreen' and Off Click here to download the Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families brochure.

Background

Funded through the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families Program was a three year grant (2003-2006) that supported initiatives established by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and Administration for Children and Families. The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Legislation was created to develop, expand, and operate community-based family services and programs to promote the development and maintenance of safe and stable families in the United States and Tribal entities. The goals of this program were:

  • To prevent child maltreatment among families at-risk through the provision of supportive family services;
  • To ensure children's safety within the home and preserve intact families in which children have been maltreated, when the family's problems can be addressed effectively;
  • To address the problems of families where children have been placed in foster care so that reunification may occur in a safe and stable manner in accordance with the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997; and
  • To support adoptive families by providing support services as necessary so that they can make a lifetime commitment to their children.

The Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families Program was developed with this legislation in mind. The thrust of this program was to provide direct service to families, provide training to whole agencies, and to identify and disseminate best practices in the strengthening of marriage and families through its research initiatives. This was accomplished by providing research and training for social service agency staff in the public, private non-profit and faith-based community organizations while providing direct services to couples and families as a means of establishing best practices for service delivery and training. The Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families program disseminated information through on-site, train-the-trainers workshops, conferences for statewide partners, and publications on best practices for improving marriages and increasing family harmony.

Project Goals and Objective

To provide direct services to couples and families, particularly those at-risk and those with special circumstances such as adoptive families, families with special needs children, and Hispanic and African-American couples and families.

To conduct research and program evaluations to identify best practices in marriage and family programs and services.

To provide training in public, private, non-profit and faith-based agencies on proven practices for strengthening marriages and families, particularly those involved in the child welfare system and those with special circumstances, such as adoptive couples, couples with special needs children, and Hispanic and African-American couples and families.

Specific Services and Programs

The Stronger Marriage and Strong Couples workshops were weekend (16 hour) couple enrichment workshops based on the work of John Gottman that educated couples on how to deal with conflict and foster respect, affection and closeness. Couples learned more effective ways of relating which contributed to increased marriage and relationship satisfaction and improved family relationships.

Six-session Brief Couples Counseling were offered based on Young and Long (1998) Integrative Approach to Couples Counseling.

Four-session Premarital Counseling Program using David Olsen's PREPARE model was offered to provide couples with skills needed to promote healthy marriage and family formation and will be delivered in group format.

Follow-up Couples Groups was offered on an ongoing basis as a method of reinforcing the learning the weekend workshops, brief couples counseling, and premarital counseling programs.

Four regional Agency Trainings were offered each year in years two and three. The grant colllaborated with state and regional public, private, non-profit and faith-based agencies and organizations to schedule and coordinate trainings in North, Central, West and South Florida regions.

The Stronger Marriages and Stronger Families state conference was offered each spring in March with the overarching focus of strengthening marriages and families. Programs will be directed to direct service providers who work with couples and families.