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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. NIFA also supports building strong families and quality of life enhancement through the following multistate and state efforts:

State Programs


Smart Steps for Adults and Children in Stepfamilies - From the University of Auburn Extension, this research-based, multimedia, interactive program provides a comprehensive educational base for remarriage preparation and/or relationship enrichment. The 12-hour program is designed to involve both couples and children ages 6-16 in separate sessions held concurrently. The 350+ page leader manual includes power point slides, participant handouts, and video clips. Training can be provided; however, the extensive background materials and the easy-to-follow leader guidelines make this an "out-of-the-box" educational program.


Before You Tie the Knot: A Pre-Marital Education Curriculum - Is a four-part series from Florida Cooperative Extension in response to the Florida Legislature’s Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act. It includes topics on communication, conflict resolution, money matters, and marriage and parenting.

Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies Series - Available through the University of Florida Cooperative Extension, this home study series helps people deal with the realities of living in a stepfamily.


The Married and Loving It! Program - This course from the University of Idaho Cooperative Extension is designed to strengthen marriage relationships by presenting research findings about successful and happy couples to the general public.


CoupleTalk: Enhancing Your Relationship - Is from Kansas State University Extension in a home study format, and either in hardcopy or through a distance education course.


A World of Possibilities - This series from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service teaches core skills that apply to nearly every area of life. The program is flexible, easy to use, and enjoyable. It enhances creativity and productivity, and fosters healthy relationships while opening up a new world of possibilities for individuals and groups.


Maryland Cooperative Extension Cares, a Web site hosted by Maryland Cooperative Extension (MCE), features information on child care and afterschool activities that help strengthen families. The Web site includes program offerings from MCE's 4H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences program areas. They enhance the quality of child care and afterschool programming through professional training, on-site educational programs, and resources for families.


Building Strong Families: Challenges and Choices - From the University of Missouri Extension this resource provides the curriculum to offer workshops on 13 different topics: Family Strengths, Communicating, Managing Stress, Child Self-Care, Food and Fitness, Working, Go For It!, Positive Discipline, Money Matters, Balancing Responsibilities, Consumer Beware, Healthy House, and Kids and Self-Esteem. The program helps families build strengths, face challenges, and make good choices.

Families and Divorce - A program developed by the University of Missouri Extension for teachers, childcare providers, and others working with children. The program provides in-service training for professionals on children's responses to divorce and remarriage at different developmental stages and what professionals can do to support children and their families through the processes of divorce and stepfamily formation.

Focus on Kids - A program from University of Missouri Extension developed for parents living apart. The program emphasizes strategies for helping children adjust to divorce transitions and for co-parenting in ways that support healthy child development.

Step by Step: Creating Strong Stepfamilies - University of Missouri Extension program for couples with children from previous relationships. This three-session program focuses on the following topics: What Every Stepfamily Needs to Know, Stepparent-Stepchild Relationships, and Financial and Legal Issues. Communication skills are emphasized throughout the program. For additional information, contact leonk@missouri.edu


Family Strengths - Research at the University of Nebraska focused on families who believe they are doing well. Family members from all 50 states and 27 countries have been asked, "What makes your family strong?" The six characteristics listed on this Web site are remarkably similar from culture to culture. This site provides resources to strengthen families.


Resources for Managing Family Issues - This Home and Away resource packet from The Ohio State University Extension was designed to provide information to families whose job or profession takes them away from home for extended periods of time. The material also stimulates awareness, maintains respect for families who experience this lifestyle, and recognizes the challenges associated with this lifestyle.

About My Families and Me - The Ohio State University Extension offers a curriculum outline and afterschool program for children in grades 3-6 who live in stepfamilies. For more information, contact recker22@ag.ohio-state.edu


Connecting Families - Curriculum from Penn State Cooperative Extension provides couples and individuals with an in-depth understanding of the key factors that influence a relationship’s success. The goals of the curriculum are to provide an understanding of the interdependent nature of relationships and enhance the skills that can support successful relationship interaction. The program consists of four workshops most typically delivered in 2 hour sessions. The sessions are interactive, involving discussion and hands-on activities. The curriculum includes evaluation strategies and a research background section, and includes a CD with power point slides for each session. Contact nmf3@psu.edu for additional information about the program.

Connecting to My Future Family - Curriculum from Penn State Cooperative Extension is designed to provide adolescents with an in-depth understanding of the process that learning to love involves. The program assists teens in exploring the challenges today’s society presents in the process of learning to establish a lasting relationship. The goals of the curriculum are to prepare adolescents with the skills and information that support successful relationship interaction. The six sessions that most typically are taught in 45 minutes are interactive, involving discussion, role-playing and hands-on activities. Included in the curriculum are evaluation strategies. For more information, contact nmf3@psu.edu


Saying “I It can be completed from the comfort of home and it is specifically targeted towards marriage preparation.


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