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									Saint Louis Healthy Marriage

  “My child’s father and I can now begin working on
     sticking together when making decisions.”

       – Female respondent after participating
        in St. Louis Healthy Marriage Program

                    September 13, 2006
     Office of Child Support Enforcement Conference
          Marriott Crystal Gateway, Arlington VA
  Special Improvement Project: Priority Three OCSE

Healthy Relationship Skills
   for Fragile Families:
A Teaching Demonstration Project

                Bridget Brennan
Executive Director, St. Louis Healthy Marriage Coalition
      Project Officer for SIP Grant Priority Three
Personal responsibility is the foundation
for any change in behavior
   Major focus of project is to expand the base of
  service providers in our community who will be
  trained to reach a significant percent of fathers and
  mothers in designated geographic areas
  Training will equip these parents with solid,
  practical and effective parenting skills

Teaching parents personal responsibility
  Responsibility for their personal lives
  Responsibility for the lives of their children

Healthy parenting skills can transfer to
healthy relationship skills.

Within underserved ethnic and culturally diverse
populations, a significant number of young adults
have entered into parenthood without the essential
skills necessary to form and sustain a healthy,
permanent relationship.

Some striking statistics:
  In 1998, 64% of African-American births were to unmarried women.
  Over the last 30 years, African-American marriages have dropped 41%.
  60% of unmarried parents vs. 24% of married parents have children by
  more than one partner.
  The poverty rate is 35.2% for children in single-parent homes vs. 8.2%
  in married parent homes.

These statistics illustrate the need for fragile
families to be educated in healthy parenting and
relationship skills
Effective relationship skills are key for children
being able to count on their parents for the
financial, medical, and emotional support the
children need to be healthy and successful.

Children of engaged fathers are less likely to have
health, behavioral, and school problems. These
children are in turn more likely to grow up as
engaged parents themselves.

Putting children first and utilizing the Family
Wellness program, we hope to ensure that parents
make healthy relationship decisions and decide if
marriage is appropriate.
Improved relationships between parents
and their children;

Increased parental involvement with their

Increased financial payments from non-
custodial parents for their children;

Decreased number of adversarial
relationships between parent partners; and

Increased progress toward family
formation among parent partners.
Provide child support enforcement education training,
including paternity establishment, to any service
providers who have not received case education

Identify and eliminate barriers to seeking child support

Teach men and women to move from an adversarial
attitude to one of cooperation with each other for the
benefit of the child.

Build a collaborative, community effort, which will
provide CSEA education, including paternity testing
and family wellness training in order to form and
sustain healthy marriages.
Collaboration between:
   State of Missouri Division of Social Services
   Fathers Support Center
   St. Louis Healthy Marriage Coalition
   Missouri child support enforcement agency
   Local St. Louis Family Support Division offices

Partnered with:
   Head Start
   Lutheran Family Services
   Women’s Safe House
   Lemay Family Care Center
   Our Lady’s Inn
   Black Leadership Roundtable
   Family Resource Center
   La Clinica
   Manos Unidas
   Salvation Army
   Pregnancy Resource Center
   Local churches

Classes meet during days, evenings, and Saturdays, for two
2-hour sessions (both open and closed classes, Year 1)
 Family Wellness curriculum serves as the
 foundation for program service delivery

 Research-based, culturally competent
 program used throughout the United States
 to address essential parenting skills,
 personal responsibility skills, and basic
 relationship skills.

 Target audience is at-risk urban African
 American, Bosnian and Hispanic mothers
 and fathers.
To date, we have recruited and marketed
our program through a variety of mediums
  Partner Agencies
  Support and Referral from Missouri Division of
  Family Services
  1-800 Number advertised in community
  Posters and Brochures
  Speaking at various community meetings to
  spread the word
  Phone Book Advertisements
Recruitment is an on-going challenge

Providing classes for a gender mixed
population rather than just one

Expanding contact hours

Bringing parents of same child
together for classes
Actual Numbers served: 292 custodial and
non-custodial parents have been served.

Our goal had been to serve 214 the first

We believe we exceeded our goals for the
following reasons:
  Commitment of trained Family Wellness
  Quality of Family Wellness curriculum
  Ability of partner agencies to recruit
  Family assistance gift was a perk
Three-quarters of participants (75%) were female

The majority (64%) were African American, followed by 23%
who were Hispanic

More than three-quarters (77%) of participants were between
the ages of 20 and 39 years, for an average age of 32 years

The number of children reported by participants ranged from
none to nine, for an average of 2.4 children per participant

More than half (59%) were employed either on a full-time or
part-time basis

Services provided at twelve sites

Medical Coverage:
                       I pay cash /   I don’t   My child’s other   My health     Medicaid
                         get billed    know     parent’s health    insurance
Who provides                7%         6%            13%                8%         67%
medical coverage
for your child?
(N = 186)

Birth Certificate Documentation:
                                                    Yes            No          I don’t know

Is your name listed on the birth certificate        7%             6%              13%
for your child?
(N = 54 male participants)

Paternity & Child Support Documentation:
                                                  Yes         No      I don’t know

Did you use a paternity test to confirm the       20%         80%         1%
biological father of your child?
Do you have court ordered child support for       30%         69%         2%
your child? ( N = 128)

Monetary & Material Support Given to the Parent Partner:

                                                                Yes        No

Do you give your child’s other biological parent money to      24%         76%
help for your child’s expenses? (N=38)

Do you give your child’s other biological parent items such    20%         80%
as diapers, clothes, and food? (N=40)
 Curriculum Components Received by Participants

Parents in Healthy Families    81%
Children in Healthy Families   40%
Couples in Healthy Families    40%
Change in Healthy Families     40%
Solving Family Problems        29%
Passing on your Values         17%
Engaging presenters

Role plays

Gender mixed classes

Family Wellness Coordinator who stays in close
contact with all instructors and sites to provide
sites with necessary support and resources

Cohesive professional working team including:
Family Wellness Coordinator, Family Wellness
Research Team, Business Manager, and Executive
Comments about what participants gained from the
Family Wellness Program:

   I have learned to listen to what he might have to

   We never talked before and now we do, so I can
   use this information to get a deeper understanding
   of where he is coming from.

   I’ve learned to calm down and think before I yell.

   I usually brush him off, but now I will take more
   time to listen.
Specific comments from NON-CUSTODIAL PARENTS
about what they gained from the program:

  I now realize how difficult it is to take care
  of the children with me not staying with

  I really want to sit down with my kids one-
  on-one and see how they feel about things.

  It’s teaching me to be a better father and a
  better man.

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