Strong Families/ Healthy Relationships

Healthy marriages and healthy relationships can serve an important role in promoting responsible fatherhood programs. Marriage education, relationship skills classes, and domestic violence prevention are all activities that promote healthy relationships within the context of a promoting responsible fatherhood program.

A healthy marriage is a mutually satisfying relationship that is beneficial to the husband, wife and children (if present) and is a relationship that is committed to ongoing growth, the use of effective communication skills and the use of successful conflict management skills. There are at least two characteristics that all healthy marriages have in common. First, they are mutually enriching, and second, both spouses have a deep respect for each other.

Whether the fathers and families in your programs are currently married or not, integrating healthy relationship skills into your programs can better support fathers’ relationships with their current partners, past and future partners, and improve their co-parenting situations, leading to healthier models and environments for their children.

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NRFC Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit, Working with Dads, Working with Fathers to Enhance Relationship Skills

The Responsible Fatherhood Toolkit section on Working with Fathers to Enhance Relationship Skills has resources for programs on types of relationships, what fatherhood programs can do, as well as tips, activities, and examples of successful programs. 

National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families

The National Resource Center for Healthy Marriage and Families promotes the value of healthy marriage and relationship education (MRE) skills and encourages their integration into safety-net service systems as a holistic approach to strengthening families.

A Federally funded resource, the Resource Center offers a variety of tools and resources designed to educate interested stakeholders in the benefits of integrating healthy marriage education into existing social service systems. They also provide a range of training, services and support to interested state, local and tribal government agencies as they work to integrate these MRE skills into their existing services in order to best support the families served in their community.

Healthy Marriage Education consists of the following core skills: communication, relationship (interpersonal), parenting, financial literacy, and conflict resolution. These skills can be successfully integrated individually or collectively into social service delivery systems to enhance and support program goals. Integration strategies can range from simple information dissemination to full engagement where curriculum is integrated into existing service delivery systems.

Learn more and sign up to receive updates, include announcements for free training opportunities at

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Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, Priority Area 5: National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Re-entering Fathers and their Partners (MSF-IP)

As a part of the National Evaluation of the Responsible Fatherhood, Marriage and Family Strengthening Grants for Incarcerated and Re-entering Fathers and their Partners (MSF-IP), several project activities have strong outreach components. The evaluation itself sits at the nexus of criminal justice and human services policy, and as such interested parties include the National Institute of Justice, the American Corrections Association, the National Association of Welfare Research Statistics, and others. The project is funded by the Office of Family Assistance with additional funding from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). ASPE manages the project for OFA under an Interagency Agreement. The project is not congressionally mandated.

The publications to date are:

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Other Relevant Resources

ACF Healthy Marriage Initiative
The Healthy Marriage Initiative is a program sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families in support of developing and sustaining healthy marriage programs nationwide.

Supporting Healthy Marriages (SHM)
SHM is sponsored by the ACF Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) with the purpose of informing program operators and policymakers of the most effective ways to help couples to strengthen and maintain their marriages.

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NRFC Resources

NRFC Spotlight on Dads
Healthy Relationships : Letting Go of the Past (2009)
Praise with a Purpose : Encouraging Children to Succeed (2009)
A Father's Laughter : Sharing the Fun and Joy of Childhood (2008)

NRFC Quick Statistics
Fathers and Marriage (2007)
Fathers and Cohabitation (2007)
Fathers and Fertility (2007)
Fathers: Attitudes, Values, Expectations, and Motivations (2007)

NRFC Spotlights
Couple Relationship Quality and Coparenting (2008)
Fathers and Domestic Violence (2008)

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