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Family Science & Human Development

Strengthening Family Relationships

Strengthening family relationships provides a better quality of life for people by enhancing health, safety, support, and a nurturing environment in which families can grow. NIFA supports family strengthening through national partnerships and multistate teams. Multistate team members include NIFA national program leaders and extension and research faculty at the land-grant universities.


For older articles, visit the archives.

Managing in Tough Times (MiTT)

The national Managing in Tough Times (MiTT) database includes resources that assist extension educators to help their constituents manage during tough economic times.  Sponsored by the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy, MITT resources are categorized and listed in a directory housed on http://mittnet.extension.org/.

The list of critical topic issues in the individuals/families area include: Bankruptcy, Budgeting and Spending, Communication, Consumer Protection, Credit, Employment,
Health, Home, Relationships/Resiliency, Risk Management, Saving and Investment,
Stress Management, and Taxes.  


Family Album Radio

Produced by University of Florida faculty and WUFT-FM, Family Album is based on unbiased social science research. This program presents a balanced view of the many changes families experience over the course of their lives, such as having a baby, learning to be a good parent, helping teens develop their independence while maintaining family ties, re-feathering the empty nest, retiring, and more. Family Album also covers the bumps in the road of family life—divorce, remarriage, work and family stress, and care for older adults. Family Album talks about building strong marriages and creating open and healthy family communication. Family Album takes a positive approach to families, celebrating their diversity, stresses and strains, successes, and resiliency.

Family Album also features a companion Web site that provides off-air educational and promotional support for the program. You can hear the programs online at www.familyalbumradio.org on the "Shows and Topics" link or searching for Family Album on Radio Source at - http://www.radiosource.net/.

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Building Strong Marriages: Resources for and Lessons Learned from Working with Stepfamilies webinar

Building Strong Marriages: Resources for and Lessons Learned from Working with Stepfamilies webinar is online. The CYFERnet Parent/Family Editorial Board in partnership with the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network presented this webinar on what it takes to establish relationship and marriage enrichment as well as parenting education programs that adequately meet the unique needs of stepfamilies. This 90 minute session, now archived and available through CYFERnet, presents the latest research-based program resources and teaching strategies.

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Dr. Bonnie Braun named endowed chair of The Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy

The School of Public Health's Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy announced Associate Professor Bonnie Braun as the Herschel S. Horowitz Endowed Chair in Health Literacy. Dr. Braun is the first Endowed Chair for the Horowitz Center, which was announced in September 2007 at the launch of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. She is also the first Endowed Chair in the new School of Public Health. As the Endowed Chair, Dr. Braun will lay the foundation for the Horowitz Center in collaboration with the Center's Advisory Board, overseeing the creation of a strategic plan and the implementation of priority research, service and education activities in this burgeoning field of study. Dr. Braun will lead the effort in educating faculty, students and the greater community about health literacy, establishing partnerships with aligned programs within the university and beyond. Dr. Braun is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health's Department of Family Science. She also has an appointment as a State Family Policy Specialist with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, under the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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Cooperative Extension multi-state collaborative team receives Children's Bureau funding

A Cooperative Extension multi-state collaborative team was recently awarded $1.2 Million by the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children's Bureau to fund a five year project, Child Welfare Training: Curriculum Development and Evaluation for Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education. The project team includes Extension Specialists who are members of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) and from the University of Missouri (David Schramm and Kim Allen, Lead Principal Investigators), University of Georgia (Ted Futris), Iowa State University (Anthony Santiago), North Carolina State University (Andrew Behnke), University of Arkansas (Wally Goddard and James Marshall), Auburn University (Francesca Adler-Baeder), Kansas State University (Charlotte Shoup Olsen), and University of Illinois (Angela Wiley). The project will involve developing and pilot testing a marriage and relationship education curriculum as well as in-person and distance education trainings for child welfare professionals, graduate students and other professionals, including Cooperative Extension educators, working with or preparing to work with adults and families.  This curriculum will address healthy marriage and relationship skills for populations underserved in the general population and overrepresented in the child welfare system. Ultimately the project will yield a research and evidence based national training resource and curriculum that will promote the development of healthy relationships and marriages across the country. For more information about the project and other relationship and marriage enrichment resources from Cooperative Extension, visit NERMEN.

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Extension specialists at North Carolina State University and North Carolina agents have teamed up to develop a manual for Extension Educators to offer parenting education to inmates.

Extension specialists at North Carolina State University and North Carolina agents have teamed up to develop a manual for Extension Educators to offer parenting education to inmates. The guide is intended to help educators get started in serving this population. The goal of Purposeful Parenting is for parents that are incarcerated to:

  • Define their personal parenting values, role, and parenting goals to facilitate effective relationships with their children;
  • Be empowered to use newly learned skills with their children striving to be more effective relationship while incarcerated and after they are released;
  • Complete an Extension Parenting Education program that is tailored to parent learner needs while incorporating essential parenting elements

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Cooperative Extension's Educational Responses to Relative Caregivers' Needs and Concerns: State and Local Networks and Resource List

This resource list links to available educational resources and highlights the various roles and responsibilities that extension staff have within their states and communities related to "relative caregiving," also referred to as "grandfamilies," "kinship care," and "grandparents and other relatives raising children." Content is categorized by its national or state reach. State initiatives are further subdivided by extension's involvement in a state or local network, the educational programs developed, and/or other resources created. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia are currently listed.

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Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED)

Fathers Reading Every Day (FRED) was recognized by NIFA as a "National Program of Excellence" in 2003. The program, a family literacy program designed by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to increase parental involvement in children's early literacy development, has now been implemented in over 70 Texas counties, 10 other states, and Canada. A 2007 evaluation study involving 520 fathers who completed FRED reveals that, on average, fathers spent 10 hours of reading time with their children and read over 42 books together. Statistically significant differences from pre to post were noted in a number of areas, including the amount of time fathers spent reading to their children, level of involvement in their children's education, amount and quality of time spent with their children, and level of satisfaction with the father-child relationship. View additional results from program evaluations. Several articles have been published on FRED in peer reviewed journals (Journal of Extension, Family Literacy Forum, upcoming issue of The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues which is in press) and in the book, "Fathers Count." To learn more, contact Stephen Green, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Extension Child Development Specialist Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M System, (979) 845-6468.

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The National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) seeks new resource

The National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN) seeks new resources developed by extension in the past year focused on healthy couple and marital relationships. Have your resource added to the website to receive greater access and usage across the country. To contribute:

1. Share any resources you have developed (e.g., curriculum, fact sheet, brochure, bulletin, published journal article) that are focused on relationship and marriage enrichment research or programming. Access the instructions to prepare your submission for review and consideration. (See if your resource is already posted.)

2. Share how your state is involved in building strong and healthy relationships and marriages. Send a brief description (80-100 word maximum) of each project/activity that includes the following: a brief title; the main focus and target audience of the program/project; source of funding, amount funded and number of years (if applicable); partners; project period (start - finish date); and URLS to websites created for this project or related content mentioned in the description.

3. Is there a briefing report or other educational resource that you have read or used and would recommend to other extension educators? Please share your recommendations by sending the title and URL with a brief description of your use and review of the resource.

4. To increase the likelihood that educators across the country come to NERMEN in order to find and access Extension's resources, add a link to our website from your site. For logos, images, submissions or questions contact Ted Futris, NERMEN Co-director.

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eXtension Just in Time Parenting is ready for parent "subscribers"!

The Just in Time Parenting subscription process is ready! Parents of infants can now enroll to receive monthly notification that their age-paced letter is ready.

Check out the resources available to extension colleagues

  • Click on "For Extension," and then click on Join the Just in Time Parenting Community of Practice today!After submitting that information, you will receive the jitp passwords that open up the pages with the programming resources.

  • Click on the marketing materials, and adapt the flyers and/or press releases to publicize Just in Time Parenting to parents in your county and/or state.

Next steps:

  • An automated evaluation and reporting system will be pilot tested. In the long term, this will provide invaluable parent feedback to help improve our work.

  • Print formatted (PDF) versions of months 1-12 are being developed. Parents will be able to print and share a very attractive monthly newsletter. Extension staff will have print-ready letters (with customizable space for your logo or masthead title) that you can distribute by mail. Click on "Download the newsletters" to see the completed newsletters.

Frequently Asked Questions Extension colleagues serve as reviewers and "experts" for the Ask the Expert feature.

What can you do now?

  • Link Just in Time Parenting to your Web site. This provides the "Google juice" that will make eXtension easy to find when parents seek information.

  • Check out the "Featured Articles" on the front page and let us know if you are interested in contributing articles. We want to be sure the best in our land-grant system is being highlighted! Don't be bashful; send in your best articles today.

  • Join the Just in Time Parenting Community of Practice. Access the JITP resources, contribute articles, serve as a reviewer, and help answer questions from parents and other professionals. Register to become a member today!

  • Enter your local programming on the eXtension Just in Time Parenting site. Although you may have your own events calendar in your county or state, this offers another way to promote events. Use "jitp" (without the quotation marks) each time you are asked for username and passwords, to publicize your events by going to and clicking on Publicizing Extension upcoming events in your county or state. It's as easy as 1-2-3!

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Strong Families, Strong Soldiers is an ongoing project funded by a cooperative agreement between NIFA and the U.S. Army

Strong Families, Strong Soldiers is an ongoing project funded by a cooperative agreement between NIFA and the U.S. Army. Cornell University serves as the land-grant university partner. Cornell collaborates with the Army's Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command family program staff to provide technical assistance (needs assessments, survey analysis, and outcome evaluation), evidence-based research briefs, and standardized training materials to enhance the delivery of support services to families of the active duty, National Guard, and Reserve soldiers, regardless of geographic location.

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New Research to Practice Brief is now available from the What Works, Wisconsin team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin-Extension

"Evidence-based programs: An overview" reviews the definition of evidence-based programs, the research behind them, their advantages and disadvantages, and where they can be found. Visit the What Works Web site to learn more about the Research to Practice series and download any or all of the briefs.

Research to Practice Briefs

Research to Practice Briefs addresses issues related to juvenile delinquency prevention and evidence-based programs. In each brief, we synthesize relevant research to help practitioners understand a particular issue and make informed decisions about their own programming.

In "Evidence-based programs: An overview," we take a step back from implementation questions to cover the basics of what evidence-based programs are and why they merit consideration by program practitioners. We also include a list of evidence-based program registries. The brief is designed as a refresher for those who are familiar with the concept of evidence-based programs or a user-friendly introduction to the topic for those who are new to it.

Previous briefs have addressed questions that often arise in the understanding and implementation of evidence-based programs across a wide range of program types, as well as topics of particular interest to juvenile justice professionals. Titles include:

  • Finding effective solutions to truancy

  • Program fidelity and adaptation: Meeting community needs without compromising program effectiveness

  • Guidelines for selecting an evidence-based program: Balancing community needs, program quality, and organizational resources

  • Strategies for recruiting and retaining participants in prevention programs

  • Culturally appropriate programming: What do we know about evidence-based programs for culturally and ethnically diverse youth and their families?


Background on What Works, Wisconsin

What Works, Wisconsin is a project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Human Ecology and the University of Wisconsin-Extension's Family Living Program. Initiated in 2004 with funding from the Governor's Juvenile Justice Commission, the What Works project focuses on distilling the latest scientific knowledge on effective policies, practices, and programs, including "evidence-based programs," for youth and their families, schools, and communities. In addition to disseminating this information to practitioners and policymakers, the What Works staff provides technical assistance on program design, improvement, and evaluation. Through publications, presentations, workshops, and individualized technical assistance, the What Works team provides practitioners and policymakers with the tools to develop effective programs and evaluate and improve existing programming based on state-of-the-art knowledge of what makes programs effective.

A larger report (What Works, Wisconsin: What science tells us about cost-effective programs for juvenile delinquency prevention, by Stephen A. Small, Arthur J. Reynolds, Cailin O'Connor, and Siobhan M. Cooney) is available for download. This 2005 report synthesizes the latest research on what works in preventing and reducing juvenile delinquency. The report highlights some of the most effective, proven programs in a number of areas ranging from home visiting for mothers and infants to community-based programs for juvenile offenders. In plain language, the authors synthesize three decades of original research, program evaluations, research reviews, and program registries to promote an understanding of evidence-based programs, the principles of effective programs, and cost-benefit analysis.

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