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Fragile Families and Environmental Issues. Jennifer L. Baker, Psy.D. Anne B. Summers, Ph.D. Debbi Steinmann, M.A. Training Instructor / Mentors Melissa.

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Presentation on theme: "Fragile Families and Environmental Issues. Jennifer L. Baker, Psy.D. Anne B. Summers, Ph.D. Debbi Steinmann, M.A. Training Instructor / Mentors Melissa."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fragile Families and Environmental Issues

2 Jennifer L. Baker, Psy.D. Anne B. Summers, Ph.D. Debbi Steinmann, M.A. Training Instructor / Mentors Melissa A. Gibson, M.S. Kim Rozell, M.A. Graduate Assistants Brent Anderson, M.S. Matthew Biller, M.A. Cate Brandon, M.A Tabitha Carlson, M.S. Jessie Clinton, M.S. Dawn Clinard, M.A. Anup Jonathan Tony Larson, B.A. Nicole Mannis, M.A. Colleen Quinn, Ph.D. Robert Mindrup, M.S.S.W. Amber Schafner, M.A. Amanda Schroeder, B.S. The Training for the Healthy Marriage and Family Formation curriculum was created through the cooperative efforts of:

3 What is a Fragile Family? Unmarried parents raising a child together. Complex families in which one or both partners: 1. Has responsibility for children with whom they do not live. 2. Shares residence with non-biological children.

4 Characteristics of Fragile Families Often committed to becoming married in the future, but face many barriers. Many involved in a committed, long-term relationship at the time of the child’s birth.

5 Characteristics of Fragile Families Racial minorities, especially African-Americans. Low-income. Lower educational attainment. From a nuclear fragile family. Younger at time of first birth. Single-mother families. Children by more than one partner. Incarcerated fathers.

6 Immediate Effects on Children Experience with or exposure to: Poverty Domestic violence Behavioral problems Decreased father involvement Strained relationship with mother Less optimal developmental environments and outcomes

7 Immediate Effects on Children Experience with or exposure to: Poverty Domestic violence Behavioral problems Decreased father involvement Strained relationship with mother Less optimal developmental environments and outcomes

8 Long-Term Effects on Children More likely to leave home early. Lower educational attainment. Poorer behavioral and mental health outcomes. More likely to divorce. Greater risk for criminal behavior. Welfare dependency.

9 Importance of Early Intervention “Magic Moment” New fathers may be more receptive to intervention. Breakup frequently occurs within two years after birth.

10 Importance of Early Intervention Most pregnant unwed mothers are in romantic relationships. –7% no relationship –51% visiting –38% cohabitating Only 11-21% of cohabitating and visiting couples are married by the child’s third birthday. Breakup rates were lower for married parents.

11 Importance of Early Intervention: Improving Relationship Quality Unmarried parents who chose to marry after the birth reported better relationship quality and less conflict than those who did not go on to marry. Better relationship quality promotes staying together or “moving up.”

12 Developing Programs for Fragile Families: Five Major Challenges 1.Identifying realistic goals. 2.Accessing fragile families. 3.Recruiting couples in fragile families. 4.Selecting appropriate leaders/facilitators. 5.Determining appropriate guiding principles.

13 Five Major Challenges: Identifying Realistic Goals It is essential to recognize the wide diversity in the needs and situations of fragile families. Program must be flexible and realistic. Marriage may not be the goal or the optimal outcome for all participants. Incorporate parenting skills, relationship skills, and marriage education into curriculum.

14 Five Major Challenges: Accessing Fragile Families Multiple points of entry. Focus to include males. Integration of relationship skills with vocational and educational programs.

15 Five Major Challenges: Assessing Fragile Families Additional needs include substance abuse treatment and information for coping with blended family issues. Target families during the pregnancy or soon after the birth. Offer booster sessions for those who have completed the program.

16 Five Major Challenges: Recruiting Couples Recruitment problems: –Stereotypes –Fear How to recruit: –Broaden focus. –Use word-of-mouth –Make program affordable

17 Five Major Challenges: Selecting Facilitators Strengths and potential vs. challenges and deficits Modeling skills Race and culture

18 Five Major Challenges: Determining Guiding Principles Join participants. Identify population-specific issues. Build on existing programs. Demonstrate cultural sensitivity. Engage participants. Provide follow-up care.

19 Further Considerations Estimation of income differences and specific barriers. Equal opportunity. More research.

20 Marriage Promotion as a Key Component of Welfare Reform Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) 1996 Welfare Reform Bill goals: 1. “To end dependence of needy persons on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage…” 2.“To encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.”

21 Healthy Marriage Initiative Improve the chance of success. Marriage is not a guarantee of positive outcomes. A healthy marriage gives parents and children a better chance of success in many spheres of life.

22 Challenges to Success in Marriage for Low-Income Families Economic Cultural Emotional Mental Physical Social Spiritual

23 Cultural Challenges Unemployment Worsening their situation Marriage Penalties Low-income neighborhoods are characterized by a disproportionate number of women to men. Economic Challenges

24 Mental Challenges Major Depression Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Emotional Challenges Return to Welfare: Feeling Like A Failure.

25 Physical Challenges Domestic Violence Chronic conditions Functional limitations Disabilities

26 Social Challenges: Understanding the Culture of Fragile Families Early unwed childbearing and family instability can reduce the probability of subsequent marriage. Women generally remain unmarried rather than marry “down” in socio- economic status. Historically, for disadvantaged groups marriage is associated with downward educational mobility.

27 Assets that Predict Success Cultural Economic Emotional Mental Health Physical Social Spiritual

28 Assets that Predict Success Economic Stability Cultural Emotional Mental Health Physical Social Support Spiritual

29 Websites Building Strong Families: Caring for my Family Curriculum: Texas Fragile Families Initiative:

30 Questions


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