In 2004, the Children’s Bureau awarded funding for grantees to design and implement programs that provide post-adoption services and marriage education training to adoptive couples. Grantees could either select an existing marriage education curriculum for families or develop one of their own.
Seven local and regional nonprofit agencies received grants for projects beginning October 1, 2004, and ending September 30, 2009. (Some grantees were awarded no-cost extensions of up to 1 year). This report is based on evaluation reports and other documents submitted by grantees.
Key Process Evaluation Results
- Most grantees fell short of their original enrollment targets. Success in meeting enrollment goals appeared to be somewhat correlated with a program’s instructional format; however, no one instructional format was consistently successful and well received by program participants.
- Enrollment barriers included a lack of perceived need for marriage education among targeted couples, busy family schedules that precluded more active participation, and inconvenient class locations.
- Participants in all seven projects were generally satisfied with the quality of the marriage education they received.
- Most grantees identified post-grant funding issues as a challenge to program sustainability. Some grantees used funds to develop educational materials that could be used indefinitely. Others responded by adapting their programs to be less costly, while still others sought additional funding sources to sustain program activities.
Key Outcome Evaluation Results
- Changes in knowledge and awareness of communication and relationship issues tended to be quite positive among participants in all seven projects.
- Improvements in marriage quality were generally modest, in part because most couples reported starting out with strong marriages.
- Family relationships and attitudes showed modest improvements over time, as did parents’ socioemotional well-being.
- Improvements in children’s behavior and well-being were modest and often inconsistent, confirming findings from earlier studies that ongoing services may be needed after an adoption is finalized.
- Data on martial stability were reported by only two grantees (Wisconsin and Washington), with Wisconsin reporting just one divorce and two separations among enrolled couples.
- Overall, very few disrupted adoptions were reported among participating families across all seven projects.