Newsletter: February 2006

Building Relationship Skills NewsletterFebruary, 2006

Dear friends-

At last! Congress approved the funding for the Healthy Marriage Initiative just last week. This means that $100 million will be available to local groups in each of the next five years for those efforts. And most importantly, for those of us who work with youth, is that one of the eight allowable activities is “Education in high schools on the value of marriage, relationship skills and budgeting.”

What can you do to get some funding to help young people learn healthy relationship skills in schools, agencies, after-school and faith settings? The best first step you can do is to find the people in your town, city, region or state who have formed or are forming a Healthy Marriage coalition and join them.

Check the website for a list of coalitions. It grows every day so it is also a good idea to get onto the Smart Marriage listserv which will let you know of new coalitions as they are added. Please also feel free to email me and I will let you know if there is a group in your area.

You should also seriously consider attending the Smart Marriage conference in Atlanta in late June. Everyone from the federal funders to local implementers will be there. It’s a fabulous opportunity to learn the latest in marriage education and get to know people just like yourself who are passionate about helping youth learn healthy relationship skills.

We feel so strongly that we have to start with the kids that we will be offering two FREE all day youth relationship skills institutes at the Smart Marriage Conference. Come see the latest in youth relationship and marriage education!

This is an exciting opportunity! Stay tuned!


Kay ReedExecutive DirectorThe Dibble

FEDS TURN EYE TO HEALTHY MARRIAGESUSA TodayFebruary 2, 2006By Sharon Jayson

Congress approved a $750 million, five-year plan aimed at building healthiermarriages Wednesday as part of its deficit reduction bill.

The measure now goes to President Bush. It includes $100 million a year formarriage-related programs and $50 million a year for fatherhood programs.This is the first time Congress has earmarked money for marriage programs,says Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children andFamilies.

Federal grants to local groups will fund programs such as communication andrelationship skills training or community-wide activities for highschoolers. Bush has backed marriage-strengthening efforts, citing researchthat children from two-parent families are better off emotionally, sociallyand economically.

“Ultimately, the outcome we’re interested in is not more marriages but morehealthy and stable marriages,” says Wade Horn, an assistant secretary forChildren and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Researcher and marriage author Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State Collegein Olympia, Wash., says marriage-education programs are successful in”weeding out” couples who shouldn’t marry but can’t solve all the problemslow-income couples face.

“There is a lot of wishful thinking going on if you just do this and ignoreother issues impacting marriage and parenting,” she says.

But Diane Sollee, founder of, says more programs willhelp. “People are going to learn behaviors that predict marital success,”she says. “They’re not funding a matchmaking service.”


FREE Youth Relationship Skills Institutes at the Smart Marriage Conference!

118 One Day – Thursday: June 22 – Free admission.School & Youth Marriage Education ProgramsActive Relationships – Garth HeckmanBuilding Relationships – Peter Larson, PhDPAIRS for PEERS – Ellen PurcellRelationship Intelligence – Richard PanzerWe have to start with the kids! These programs – being taughtacross the country – teach students about the skills that arecentral to building and maintaining good marriages. Curricula areeasily adapted to classroom, church or community and youthgroup settings.  Teens also encouraged to attend. See #918.

918 One Day – Monday, June 26 – Free admission.School & Youth Marriage Education ProgramsKay Reed, chairLove U2® – Marline Pearson, MACONNECTIONS – Char Kamper, MA, Scott Gardner, PhDLoving Well – Nancy McLaren, MATWe have to start with the kids! These research-based, best practice,developmentally appropriate programs  – being taughtacross the country – teach students the skills that arecentral to building and maintaining healthy marriages. Curricula areeasily adapted to classroom, church or community and youthgroup settings.  Teens encouraged to attend. See #118.Click for more information:

Eight Allowable Activities of the Proposed Healthy Marriage Promotion Grant

  1. Public advertising campaigns on the value of marriage and the skills needed to increase marital stability and health.
  2. Education in high schools on the value of marriage, relationship skills, and budgeting.
  3. Marriage education, marriage skills, and relationship skills programs, that may include parenting skills, financial management, conflict resolution, and job and career advancement, for non-married pregnant women and non-married expectant fathers.
  4. Pre-marital education and marriage skills training for engaged couples and for couples or individuals interested in marriage.
  5. Marriage enhancement and marriage skills training programs for married couples.
  6. Divorce reduction programs that teach relationship skills.
  7. Marriage mentoring programs which use married couples as role models and mentors in at-risk communities.
  8. Programs to reduce the disincentives to marriage in means-tested aid programs, if offered in conjunction with any activity described above.