Hi Diane -

We're happy to share our grant proposal.  We've already done so with quite a few folks who came
to the session at Smart Marriages Reno on grant writing and who emailed me directly.

Folks need to keep in mind, though, that we were funded through the ACF/Child Support
Enforcement Office and are targeting a very specific group - nonmarried prenatal and early
postnatal couples.  Therefore, some of the information will not be applicable to a proposal
targeting a more general audience.

I have to tell you, too, that the program is being so well received.  We've had over 100 participants
to date and have just completed focus group interviews with facilitators at all 4 pilot sites.  They are
overwhelming positive about the reception to a marriage education program among our
lower-resource participants.  2-hour sessions are turning into 3 1/2 hour sessions because of
participant questions and elaborations on activities. Participants are very verbal about the
positive impact on their relationship skills and growing confidence for a committed relationship.
A number of participants have commented on the usefulness of information in the curriculum
(we're testing the Caring for My Family program from Michigan State Extension) on recognizing
unhealthy relationships (red flags) and say they wish they had learned this earlier in their lives
(Our state's Domestic Violence coalition participated in training all of our facilitators and were
very pleased with this content).  Many are recommending friends and family for the program
and we are building a waiting list for the next series of offerings this fall. Our quantitative evaluation
of program effects is quite extensive and will hopefully be informative for other groups as they
prepare to offer similar marriage education programs.  We'll have these results at year's end.

If you have any calls from the media regarding marriage education for low-resource couples, let
us know - our facilitators and couples would have some wonderful stories to share.

Francesca Adler-Baeder, Ph.D., CFLE
Dept. of Human Development and Family Studies
Auburn University
286 Spidle Hall
Auburn, AL  36849
334-844-3234
334-844-4515 fax
adlerfr@auburn.edu
 

PROJECT SUMMARY ABSTRACT

In an effort to better the chances for Alabama children�s healthy development, the Children�s Trust Fund, with the support Alabama Department of Human Resources and the Alabama Office of Child Support Enforcement, seeks $200,000 in funding to support the "Family Connections in Alabama" (FCA) Special Improvement Project.  This application is a collaboration of several public, private, community, and faith-based agencies and organizations, representing the launch of a coordinated statewide effort in couple strengthening/family formation activities. The project addresses primarily the Program Announcement�s Priority 2:  encouraging new ways to approach unwed parents to emphasize the importance of healthy marriage to a child�s well-being, but also addresses Priority 1: helping low-income fathers meet their child support and family responsibilities.

The FCA project will be delivered through four community agencies with excellent track records for recruiting and maintaining program participation among the project�s target audience:  low-income, ethnically-diverse noncustodial parents and prenatal/early postnatal nonmarried parents.  Two county programs access a more rural population; two target an urban population. All of the programs currently receive CTF funding. The proposed project will provide training of personnel in the FCA curriculum, primarily the "Caring for My Family:  Family Formation and Fathering" Curriculum, recently developed by Michigan State University Extension based on studies of fragile families and the barriers to family stability. Topics include:  the importance of family stability, self-care, relationship skills, financial management, decision-making, and goal-setting. Program content will also include negotiating multiple co-parenting relationships, stepparenting, and recognizing abusive relationships. Mediators will be utilized as appropriate. Information will be provided or referrals made to job skills training programs, to include entrepreneurial skills training.
A rigorous evaluation methodology, involving control groups, will be used to examine project success in meeting the primary goals:  increased parental involvement/support and improved family relationships.

OBJECTIVES AND NEED FOR ASSISTANCE

  Unfortunately, it is quite easy to demonstrate the need for assistance to promote child well-being in the state of Alabama. Our composite rank on measures of child well-being was 46th out of the 50 states in 2000 (Alabama Kids Count, 2001).  Specifically, Alabama is in the top ten for numbers of children living in poverty (about 1 in 4 in the state; 1 in 3 in many counties) and for numbers of children living in a single parent home. About 35% of newborns each year are born to unmarried parents in the state.  In many counties in Alabama, this rate is well over 50% (Alabama Vital Statistics, 2002).  Over half of children living with a single mother in Alabama, live in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000). In addition, Alabama currently has the 4th highest divorce rate in the country (Crary, 1999).  Most divorces are followed by a period of single parenthood.

  Although many single parents make heroic efforts to parent their children well, overall, children in single parent households are at greater risk for a number of negative outcomes, such as delinquent behaviors, academic problems, social problems, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, depression and other psychological dysfunction (Hetherington & Kelly, 2002).  The etiology of negative child outcomes is incredibly complex; however, it is clear that factors related to economic hardship and lack of support for the single parent and children are important predictors (e.g., Hernandez, Beller and Graham, 1995).

 The risk of negative effects is reduced when there is co-parenting cooperation and regular support from the noncustodial parent, both economic and emotional (Amato, 2001).  Risks are further reduced when a child is reared in a 2-parent household.  It is important to point out, however, that it is not just living in a 2-parent family that reduces the risks of negative outcomes for children.  In fact, a 2-parent home can be an unhealthy, and even dangerous environment for a child when there is unresolved conflict in the couple relationship. It is living in a 2-parent family where the adults are cooperative and nurturing that is the optimal environment for children�s healthy development.

  The pre-natal and early post-natal period appears to be the best time to focus on assisting parents in removing barriers to marriage/relationship commitment, or on assisting them with effective co-parenting should they choose not to commit to a couple relationship.  Over 80% of noncustodial fathers are present at their child�s birth and a large percentage are in a romantic relationship with the mother, yet numbers of these couples who enter into and maintain a committed relationship or marriage are low.  A study of low-income, new mothers (Edin, K., 2001) reveals that the 4 motives for non-marriage are:  affordability, respectability, trust, and control.  The study concluded that unless low-skilled men�s economic situations improve, and unless they alter their relationship behaviors, it is quite likely that large numbers of low-income women will continue to resist relationships, and specifically, marriage.

  Similarly, in post-separation or divorce situations, the immediate period following couple dissolution is shown to be crucial for establishing a committed parenting relationship with nonresidential children.  Involvement of the child�s other parent early predicts a pattern of connection and support for the child (Meyer & Bartfeld, 1997; Seltzer, 1991).  This consistent noncustodial parent involvement and support is positively linked with child well-being (Amato, 2001; Hetherington & Kelly, 2002). Non-custodial fathers who are able to pay all (or at least most) of their child support payments can help reduce the economic strain associated with separation and divorce and, as a result, favorably impact the lives of their children and former spouse (Hernandez, et al., 1995). Families at these crucial periods ? both prenatal, unmarried and early divorce (i.e., new and potentially new IV-D clients) will be the primary target participants in the FCA project.

  Alabama custodial parents struggle with issues of child support nonpayment.  In 2000, Alabama reported the lowest rates of child support payments among 10 Southern states (Alabama DHR, OCSE, 2000). Less than half (48%) of IV-D clients are current in their child support payments.  Less than 1/5th (18%) of IV-D clients in arrears are paying any child support.  Many custodial parents are not able to collect child support from the other parent at all because paternity is not established.  Among cases of births to unmarried parents in Alabama, 54% do NOT have paternity established during the birthing hospital stay.  Among the target counties for the FCA project, this number is as high as 68% (Alabama DHR, OCSE, 2002). Clearly, the overall objective of this project is to assist project participants in understanding the importance of 2-parent involvement and support for their child�s well-being, and motivating responsible behaviors.

 Current research provides important information on the factors associated with healthy, stable families.  They are:  1) ability of individuals to manage stress, adapt to conditions, and/or recover from a crisis (e.g., Boss, 2002), 2) parental involvement in their children�s lives regardless of marital status (e.g., Sorensen, et al., 2000), 3) father�s ability to provide economic support (Doherty, Kouneski, & Erickson, 1998), 4)  positive communication and relationship skills (Gottman, 1997; Stanley, 2001), and 5) feelings of self-efficacy (Sorenson, et al., 2000). The objectives of the FCA project are focused on building these strengths among lower income, ethnically-diverse, fragile families through the development of practical knowledge and decision-making skills that form and sustain healthy family relationships and nurturing environments for children.

 RESULTS OR BENEFITS EXPECTED

 An important benefit of implementing the FCA project will be the lessons learned through the documentation and evaluation of the program effects.  We will learn more about the process of working with fragile families in the area of family formation/marriage education.  We will learn more about elements and aspects of the curriculum that have the desired effects and those that do not ? and why.  This will not only benefit Alabama�s future efforts in this area.  Sharing results of this SIP will allow other organizations in other states who have not yet begun to organize their efforts in their state to move forward in a more informed way in family formation activities, particularly among low-income populations.

 Among program participants we expect to find evidence of improved knowledge about the importance of stable marriages and stable families.  A primary expected outcome for the project will be the positive involvement of fathers. Among program participants we expect to see higher rates of paternity established as compared to the general county population. We will track both quality and quantity of parental involvement and the quality of family relationships and expect to find improvements associated with participation in the project.

 We expect that unmarried mothers and fathers will gain skills for making healthy decisions and explore future options for their relationship including the potential of getting married.  In situations where marriage is not a viable option, co-parenting skills will be enhanced and connection with and support for the child will be more predictable and consistent on the part of the noncustodial parent.  In situations where co-parenting is not safe, self-care skills and family support mechanisms will be enhanced.

We expect to find improved decision-making skills, specifically a more child-centered focus in decisions. Interpersonal communication skills are essential for positive relationships to develop between parents and between family members.  Improved relationships between parents will help to remove barriers to adequate parental involvement and will provide a healthier environment for children.  We expect that program participants will result in more positive communication and relationship skills.

Improved job skills, economic stability, and financial support of the child are expected.  Stable employment may remove a barrier to a committed relationship or marriage between parents or will enable non-residential parents to contribute time and financial resources for their child�s well being. We expect to see both improved rates of child support payments during the project period and higher rates of child support payments of participants as compared to the county rates.

 We expect that feelings of self-efficacy will improve.  This is related to positive self-concept and the confidence needed to overcome personal life challenges.  Empowered, self-efficacious individuals are more likely to involve themselves in healthy relationships (e.g., Schafer & Wickrama, 1996; Scheel & Rieckmann, 1998).  By developing personal life skills, individuals become more independent and believe that they both deserve and can maintain healthy relationships. It is also expected that participants will improve their support systems and connections to resources.  This is especially important for fragile and distressed families (Sorenson, et al., 2000).

The overriding guide for objectives is that all are known to be related to healthy family formation, healthy marriage readiness, and in turn, healthy child development.

APPROACH

We assume that all families have strengths and assets. They begin their family journey at the birth of their child with high hopes for the future. However, some families are more "fragile" because of economic, social and emotional distress that places them at risk. Support and education can help these parents learn to make healthy decisions about themselves, their relationships, and their children. As a result, these families will demonstrate more strength and resilience in the face of everyday stressors and problems.  The design of the FCA project is framed within an ecological family systems theoretical model that assumes that multiple factors at different levels in relation to the individual interact with each other and with the individual in a system of bidirectional influences.  Addressing and positively impact multiple factors at multiple levels has the best chance of effecting positive changes in the individual and the family.

Alabama�s Children�s Trust Fund (CTF) will direct the FCA project. CTF was created in 1983 when a small group of Alabama leaders drafted legislation and persuaded the Alabama legislature to pass a bill that created a new state agency dedicated to funding community-based nonprofits. The agency receives line item funding and grant funding to make grants to and provide technical assistance for local programs that prevent child abuse and neglect and strengthen families. A fourteen-member board made up of nine public members, five permanent members and two at-large members governs CTF. The public members, one from each of Alabama�s seven congressional districts are appointed to three-year terms by the Governor. The five permanent members are from the following state agencies: Department of Human Resources, Public Health, Public Safety, Mental Health and Retardation, and Education. Each year, the Board of Directors awards grants to local child abuse and neglect prevention programs statewide.

Auburn University�s Human Development and Family Studies department will assist CTF with the coordination of training and implementation, and will oversee program evaluation of the FCA project. FCA will be piloted through currently CTF-funded programs that access the project target populations with existing programs: the Mobile County Health Department�s TEEN Center (local public agency), Choctaw County Alabama Cooperative Extension agency (local public agency), Parents and Children Together (PACT) in Morgan County (private, nonprofit), and the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE) Family Services Center in Talladega County (private, nonprofit) (See Appendix A for project organizational chart).  Additionally, program content from Michigan State University (MSU) Extension (state agency), Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and the Greater Peace Community Development Corporation Fatherhood Development Initiative in Lee County (private, faith-based, nonprofit) will be utilized in the project. Project personnel will receive the Family Development Credential training through the Corporate Foundation for Children (public/private, nonprofit) and will access DOL Welfare to Work programs and Truce Talks mediators (CTF sponsored) as needed for program participants, along with other referred programs and services.

Although the discussions of family formation projects have been extensive recently among the highest levels of policy-makers and government officials, we are still in the beginning stages of learning about this relatively new area of family life education and services.  In fact, very little work has been done to evaluate and understand program effects, particularly among more vulnerable populations.  A large number of "relationship enhancement" and "marriage education" programs exist; however, these are based in large measure on studies of more privileged, white couples or on clinical experiences of the program developer.

Rather than testing the applicability of curricula designed for white, middle-class audiences to low-income, ethnically-diverse families, our project will test a program carefully developed by MSU over the past year specifically for the target audience, based on studies of fragile families and the barriers to family stability.  Topics include:  the importance of family stability and the benefits of healthy couple and married relationships, self-care, relationship skills training, co-parenting skills training, financial management, and goal-setting. Program content is framed by an ecological family systems model, and importantly, incorporates a process model for change (Prochaska, Norcross, & DiClemente, 1994). We will also include content on couple relationships when one or both have other children from a previous relationship ? this includes stepparenting issues, which are sometimes barriers to healthy couple functioning and family formation commitment.

We will proceed cautiously regarding the program goal of "emphasizing marriage..for the well-being of children."  Clearly, there are situations where a marriage would not facilitate a healthy environment for a child.  We will include information on unhealthy, abusive relationships and provide a self-screening tool designed by the Alabama DHR and Alabama Coalition against Domestic Violence.  Appropriate referrals will be made in identified situations of domestic violence and abuse. We will also recognize and expect diverse, complex family situations, where marriage is not a viable or desired option.  In these situations, healthy co-parenting skills and knowledge will be emphasized.  This will include information on negotiating multiple co-parenting relationships ? where one parent has children with multiple partners.

Because we know that that economic stability is closely related to noncustodial parent involvement and to decisions about relationship/marriage commitment (e.g., Sorenson et al., 2000), participants will be involved in job skills training.  In addition to traditional program content, project personnel will be trained to provide information from the Fatherhood Entrepreneurship Workshop. This is particularly important in counties where job opportunities are scarce and for individuals with an incarceration record who face application discrimination.

Target Counties.

 Mobile County (Southwest Alabama):  The Mobile County Health Department�s TEEN Center was established in February 1998 as part of the Healthy Start Initiative.   The Project Coordinator maintains a strong relationship with all community agencies working with youth. The Center serves pregnant or parenting teen mothers, age 10-19, through the Family Support Program, and young fathers (under 22) through the "Keeping it Real" Fatherhood program.  The young women  are primarily referred by the Mobile County Health Department Women�s Center, a federally funded maternity and family planning clinic.  Participants are also referred by various local agencies including the Department of Human Resources, the Mobile County Public School System, the Mobile County Juvenile Court, and the University of South Alabama Children�s and Women�s Hospital.  Participants receive weekly home visits and also participate in group meetings. The fathers are referred by the mothers as the fathers of their children.  Their participation is voluntary.  They attend weekly group programs; some are also individually mentored.  Potential FCA project participants will be a mix of young, low-income, primarily African-American noncustodial parents and prenatal/early postnatal couples and/or individuals in a mostly urban area.

 Morgan County (NorthCentral Alabama):  PACT (Parents and Children Together) serves as the Morgan County Family Resource Center, supporting families through group family life education, one-on-one services, public awareness and school-based programs.  Over 17 programs are offered to multiple at-risk populations in the Morgan County area.  This is accomplished by utilizing strong community ties, a very active 30-member board, 20 advisors, over 400 volunteers, and 16 dedicated staff members serving over 8,000 parents and children.  PACT has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for excellence in programming, effective use of volunteers, and community support.  PACT received a national award from the Points of Light Foundation. PACT has a Spanish-speaking program provider in order to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding community of Spanish-speaking families.  Participants for the FCA project will be a mix of  low-income, ethnically-diverse noncustodial parents and prenatal/early postnatal couples and/or individuals in a mostly urban area.

Choctaw County (WestCentral Alabama):  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System county agency is the outreach center of the land-grant university system (Auburn University and Alabama A&M) in the county and provides community programs that support child, family, and community well-being.  Choctaw County ACES offers 3 programs that target low-income noncustodial and single parents:  1) the B.e.e.ing Dads Program, which seeks to strengthen, encourage, and support low-income, non-custodial fathers to be actively, and positively involved in the care and development of their children, 2)  the Baby B.E.E. (Begin Education Early) program, targets limited resource mothers with children 0 to 2; and 3) the B.E.E. Program, a school readiness and parenting program for limited resource parents with children ages 2-5.  Over 50% of the BEE and Baby BEE participants� children have non-custodial fathers.  Group delivery of programs is offered, as well as home visits.  Groups meetings are held in locations throughout the county for easier access for interested families. Participants come through referrals from DHR, the court system, school principals, media and community notices, and by word-of-mouth. Participants for the FCA project will be a mix of  low-income, ethnically-diverse noncustodial parents and postnatal couples and/or individuals in a rural area.

Talladega County (Northeast Alabama):  The Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE) is a community, nonprofit family services agency.  A wide of variety of programs and services are offered, many reaching the FCA project target audiences.  Program participants are referred by the District Court, Family Court, the Talladega County Department of Human Resources, the Coosa Valley Baptist Medical Center, The Cheaha Mental Health Center, the Police Departments of Sylacauga and Talladega, the local school districts, self-referral, and the community at large. A variety of program types are offered:  home visitation, hospital visits, group education, and resource distribution.  Of particular interest to the FCA project is their Fatherhood Program presented in the jails for noncustodial, incarcerated fathers.  Participants for the FCA project will be a mix of  low-income, ethnically-diverse noncustodial parents and prenatal/early postnatal couples and/or individuals in a rural area.

FCA Project Components.

"Caring for My Family," is a newly developed 24-hour curriculum by Michigan State University Extension that can be delivered in a group or individual setting.  As described previously, the purpose of the program is to equip unmarried mothers and fathers with skills for making healthy decisions and to explore future options for their relationship including the potential of getting married.  Parents will learn skills for parenting together and strengthening their family unit. In addition, participants will learn practical skills to help them improve stress management, communication and listening, and other interpersonal skills. They will demonstrate and practice these skills in a supportive and experiential learning environment. Strategies are designed to be used in a culturally-sensitive learning environment.

Composite Modules:  FCA project personnel will be trained in selected modules from existing Cooperative Extension family life education programs.  These include information on stepparenting, co-parenting after couple relationship dissolution, multiple co-parenting relationships, and domestic violence identification.

Fatherhood Entrepreneurship Workshop (FEW):  In addition to accessing existing program content in all 4 counties on job skills training, the FCA project personnel will be trained to implement the "Cashing in on Business Opportunities" curriculum with selected program participants.  This 24-hour program was developed by the National Home-Based and Micro Business Design Team for the Communities in Economic Transition National Initiative of the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Course topics include: Introduction to Entrepreneurship; Business Planning and Research; Organizational Matters (Management and Legal Issues); Marketing; Finance, Deal Making; and Business Growth.  The program is designed to empower financially challenged non-custodial fathers with  new entrepreneurial skills that will allow them to open and successfully operate a business. FCA program assistants will be trained in the delivery of the program content using community business leaders and volunteer entrepreneurs.  Content will be offered in four 6-hour workshops. The project will also feature one-to-one mentoring for each program graduate.

Truce Talks:  A recurring issue with program participants, particularly those involved in the Alabama Fatherhood Initiative Programs funded by CTF, was lack of parental involvement and a poor record of child support payments due to lack of access to their children and understanding of their parental rights and responsibilities. Working in cooperation with the Alabama Center for Dispute Resolution and the Administrative Office of the Courts, CTF has trained 14 mediators to provide, at no cost, mediation services to low-income nonmarried individuals and families. FCA project personnel will involve Truce Talks mediators with program participants as necessary. Consistent with FCA project goals, mediators are trained to assist clients in negotiating positive parental involvement and support and in building family strengths.

 Family Development Credential:  The Family Development Credential (FDC) training, developed by Cornell University, provides those working directly with families even better insight and skills for promoting family strengths and empowering families with skills as they develop. This is especially important for program personnel working with fragile families.  The Family Development Credential (FDC) is earned after 90 hours of training.  This training and the credential is recognized and valued throughout the country as an important professional achievement in family support education. There is information in the program on understanding family systems, understanding family dynamics and interactions, the difference between "the deficit model" and the "empowerment approach,"  enhancing home visitation skills, enhancing group facilitation skills, enhancing training skills, enhancing collaboration skills, and understanding culture. A credentialed program assistant is more likely to use curricula content to assist families in building nurturing, healthy environments for themselves and their children, and are more likely to see families positively affect the communities in which they live.
Implementation.

A timeline is described in Appendix B. A minimum of four program personnel in each county will be trained in the FCA project curriculum and data collection methodology.  A minimum of two will obtain the Family Development Credential. Each county will recruit 30-50 participants in the FCA project.  Efforts will be made to include a balance of  prenatal/early postnatal couples (new and potential IV-D clients) and noncustodial fathers, particularly new IV-D clients (early post-divorce).  Inclusion of both mother and father in the program, even if program delivery is separate, will be emphasized.  County program assistants will determine the best method of delivery and the best combination of program content/modules for each individual and/or family; therefore time in program and total content delivered will vary, but will be carefully documented. A minimum of 24 hours of program participation per person is expected. Incentives will be used to recruit and retain participants.  Methods will be determined by the counties, and will include family field trips, birthday parties for children, gift packets, and gift certificates.  The Mobile TEEN Center provides participants with "Baby Bucks" for attending group meetings.  These are used to purchase items, such as baby strollers, car seats, clothing, toys, books, and diapers from the on-site Baby Store.

EVALUATION
 Overview.  Consistent with the theoretical perspective of the multi-level family formation education program design, the evaluation will utilize an ecological systems framework (Bronfenbrenner, 1977). The major contribution of this framework is the recognition there is not one factor that leads to the knowledge gains, attitude and behavior changes, skill development ? and ultimately, the engaged, healthy relationships that are the focus of this project.  Rather, it is a complex system of multiple factors and processes.  Hence, we build into our evaluation plan the measurement and analyses of multi-level, multiple factors shown to contribute to behaviors and the quality and stability of family relationships among fragile families.

  The evaluation will focus on gains in identified criteria (e.g., knowledge, changes in attitudes, growth in skill, and relationship quality) resulting from participation in the project using pre-test/post-test data collection designs. Evaluation tools will gather information on: demographics, community characteristics, family characteristics/structure, couple functioning, co-parental functioning, parental functioning, child functioning, family functioning, family resources/support, parent and child health, parenting attitudes, child development knowledge of parent, parenting skills, and parent-child relationship.

 Beyond assessing the extent to which project goals are reached, a second set of questions will be asked in order to determine what features of the project contribute to the results achieved. Recently, it has been noted in the literature that little is known about dimensions of program implementation.  We know little about for whom family support programs (particularly home visitation programs) work best and what aspects of program service are most predictive of positive outcomes, particularly among low-income families (Gomby, Culcross, & Behrman, 1999). Evaluation tools will gather information on: program features, the characteristics of study families, participants� understanding of and receptiveness to the program (i.e., social validity), program staffing characteristics, and the quality of staff-participant relationships.

The Plan.  It is hypothesized that exposure to curricular information will yield increases in the targeted knowledge, attitude, skills, and relationship quality. This hypothesis will be tested on two time dimensions. Learning in the immediate time frame will be assessed with a brief, retrospective pre-post evaluation questionnaire specific to program content upon completion of each designated module. With this procedure, participants will be asked to indicate in terms of specific curriculum-relevant items what they understood now that they have been exposed to the content and, concurrently, they will indicate what they understood with respect to the same items and on the same scales, before they were exposed.  These forms of evaluation are useful for providing input on whether the curriculum was successful in imparting the intended message and may be a more valid measure of change in knowledge base. Participants may give themselves more or less credit for their current level of knowledge in a pre-program test.  After they have experienced the program and program content, they may have a clearer perspective on what their level of program content knowledge was prior to the program (Rockwell & Kohn, 1989). The retrospective pre/post questionnaire design allows for this self-assessment.

  The retrospective pre/post questionnaire design, however, is less useful as a true measure of the impact of an intervention since the ultimate goals of interventions are to have longer lasting effects on several dimensions of individual and family functioning. These longer lasting effects will be evaluated through a more traditional pre-post test design. Participants will complete a battery of scales before participation in the program to provide a baseline of knowledge, attitude, skill, and relationship quality. This same battery of scales will be administered at the end of the program. Gains from pre-test to post-test in knowledge, attitude, skill parental involvement, and relationship quality will indicate a successful intervention.

 The evaluation plan will include the recommendation of Willett and colleagues (1991) who promote the use of multi-point assessments as a means of tracking individual and family patterns of change during participation in an intervention, rather than the strict use of pre/post assessment.  They offer that a post-test only may measure a temporary low or high, particularly in individual, dyadic, or family functioning, while a multi-point assessment may demonstrate an overall pattern of improvement in measures of positive function and change.  A subset the full battery scales will be administered at 3 points during the participant�s program involvement in addition to the pre/post program full battery data collection.  The resulting trajectory will provide additional information of multiple levels of functioning changes throughout program involvement (Collins & Sayer, 2001; Willett & et al., 1991).

 Mixed results of program evaluations of similar types of family education programs suggest that implementation processes may account for differences in program effectiveness (Gomby, et al., 1999). The second primary purpose of this evaluation study is to examine the processes of the program implementation in order to offer empirical insights into features of the program that may account for success/failure. The intent is to answer the question:  which features and characteristics�individually and in combination� are present in families showing positive increases in adaptive functioning across single or multiple domains? Research results would then be used to inform program implementation efforts.

 Data will be collected from project personnel for each program participant on program type (i.e., module topic), program context (i.e., home visit, group setting ? jail, school, community center, etc.), and number and length of program sessions.  These carefully-kept records will be coded as "dosage" information for the participant. Project personnel will also report on the perceived receptivity to program session, the extent to which the session was individualized and/or altered during the session; and attrition of study families and follow up on reasons for leaving the program. From study participants, data will be collected on their initial expectations about program services, their motivation for program participation, their goals for their family, their use of and satisfaction with the program, and belief in its value to their family.
We will collect data on project personnel:  basic demographic information, educational level and background, and training and/or work experience as a home visitor/family life educator; these include self-assessment and assessment by a supervisor of a program staff�s interpersonal skill in establishing rapport, organizational skills, level of commitment to program/families; beliefs about the possibility of change, and problem-solving skills. Finally, information will be collected from both program staff and from family members with regard to the perceived quality of the relationship between the family and the program staff.

Sampling plan. Four counties in Alabama are targeted for the project. Study participants will be recruited from among the program participants and from the broader community.  Efforts will be made to collect data from 2 parenting partners per family.  Also, data will be collected on one target child. We expect over 90% of program participants will agree to participate in the study. Study participants will be paid $20 for completion of each of the 2 full-battery questionnaires (pre/post program).
 Use of control groups is essential for valid evaluation interpretation.  Use of Alabama Cooperative Extension Family Life county agents who have established connections with community agencies and families directly, and who have the facilities to conduct data collection interviews, should ensure successful recruitment of control group participants. In demographically-matched comparison counties, 160 participants will be recruited at the beginning of the study using the same criteria for program participation.  All control group study participants will be given $30 at each of the 2 main data collection points. It is noted that control group participants may be recipients of other programs or interventions.  This will be assessed at each data collection point and will be represented in the "dosage" variable. The comparisons of the control group and project participant groups will show whether participation in the project results in significantly more knowledge, skill, and relationship commitment and quality as compared to those developed through life experience or other program participation independent of the intervention. Objective measures of child support payment rates, paternity establishment, and marriage rates will be tracked among groups and compared.  (note: Project participant rates can also be compared to the county rates as well.) Over-sampling will be used for the control group, since a 25% loss over the study period is expected.

 Instruments. The Ohio State University Extension Young Fathers/Mothers Inventory (Futris, T., 2002, personal communication) will be the primary instrument.  This 350-item instrument that measures multiple domains of individual, couple, parenting, family and community functioning has been recently validated through a large-scale pilot study.  Other instruments specific to the curriculum will be administered following each module used.  Instruments measuring program implementation process described previously will be designed for the study, as none exist in the published literature. All instruments will be evaluated for the sample at each administration using Chronbach�s Alpha coefficient.
 Data analysis plan. The statistics to be used to answer questions posed by this evaluation study will consist of group comparison tests (t-Tests, analysis of variance [ANOVA] and multivariate analysis of variance [MANOVA]), regression analyses and Latent Growth Modeling. Simple group differences on individual outcome measures that are not conceptually linked with other outcome measures will be tested with t-tests and ANOVA. Thus, for example, checking whether males compared to females enter the program with more accurate knowledge about relationship skills will be tested with a t-test, while checking whether participants from the individual counties vary systematically in their knowledge at the beginning of the study will be tested with ANOVA. If the interest, however, is to look at how the genders or the counties vary at time 1 in terms of the set of subscales measuring knowledge about relationships skills and family functioning, a MANOVA will be used because the several dependent measures are related and need initially to be treated simultaneously to control inflating the alpha level and to avoid Type 1 error. Changes that are expected to emerge over time as a result of the intervention will be tested with repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVAs) with planned contrasts. The "within subjects" repeated measure will be the two scores on the relevant dependent variables for the given analysis. A mean for each group at each point would be calculated for the analysis. The planned contrasts examines mean differences between groups, such as project participant/control group, or among program participants in different dosage groups.

  Regression analyses will permit prediction of outcomes both within a set of scales collected at one time and across scales collected at different times. Regression analyses provide information on the relative importance of predictors of desired outcomes. Using regression analyses across time will provide a clearer picture of the order of relationships between variables.

  Latent Growth Modeling will be used to examine the groups� mean scores across multiple data collection periods and determine whether or not the intervention affects the growth trajectory compared to a control setting (Collins & Sayer, 2001; Willett et al., 1991). Power calculations will be used to determine a main effect of intervention (Brown, Wayne, Muthen, & Dagne, 1998).

 Qualitative methods. This is primarily a quantitative study. However, qualitative data will be obtained as a means of providing additional information from which to draw when interpreting data analyses results.  5-10 study participants in each county will be randomly selected to participate in a focus group.  Participants will be asked about their family, their child, their couple relationship, their parenting, and their experiences with the program. In order to facilitate the extraction of useful information from these groups with a minimum of identifiable data, the groups will be audio-taped and transcribed. Transcriptions will be coded for themes.
 

Family Connections in Alabama
CTF Budget Narrative
(salary detail protected for privacy)
Personnel:          $12,912.96
Deputy Director - will supervise the Program Director, Field Director, and Administrative Assistant dedicated to the project. (5% FTE)

Program Director ? will oversee project and supervise Field Director and Administrative Assistant. Work with Evaluation Team. (10% FTE)

Field Director ? will provide on-site and day-to-day Technical Assistance to the four sites. Includes program development, implementation, and fiscal monitoring through quarterly reports. (10% FTE)

Administrative Assistant ? will provide all secretarial duties related to the project sites for the Program Director. (10% FTE)

Fringe Benefits:         $1,672.90
 11.6% includes FICA and Retirement
 $500.00 Healthcare/yr./staff position

Travel:          $10,800.00
Out-of-State - 2 CTF Staff members travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with ACF. ($1000 x 2 x 2 Trips)

In-State ? Includes 3 CTF Staff on project related trainings, conferences, visits   ($75.00/day X 26 days)

Workshop Presenters- Airline- $755, Meals/Hotel - $150 x 2 days and Rental Car - $100 x 2 days for a 2-day workshop for 4 sites to train in Relationship Curriculum.

Subawards to 2-day Workshop ? 16 Individuals trained from 4 sites. Includes 16 x $75.00/day for Meals/Hotel x 2 days. And 4 sites X 375 miles x $.365.

Subawards to 1-day Workshop on Entrepreneurial Skills ? 4 Individuals from 4 sites. Includes 4 x 375 miles x $.365 and $11.25/day for meals.

Contractual: See attached budgets       $167,514.00

Training:           $7,100.00
 Workshop Presenters - $250 each/day x 3 days.
 Workshop Curriculum - $100 x 16 individuals.
 FDC Credential for Family Support Worker ? 2 FSW x 4 sites x $500

Total:           $200,000.00
 

Choctaw County, Site 1- Budget Narrative
Salaries          $17,442.00
    Wages (25 hrs. per wk/48 wks)
    1200 hrs.
    Benefits (14%)
    10 hrs.wk/48wks=480 hrs.
    Benefits (14%)-
Bonding Field Trips         $4,325.00

Transportation/Travel                              $1,327.00
   3,636 miles @ .365
Program Materials/incentives         $5,756.66

TOTAL                 $28,850.66
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Morgan County - PACT, Site 2 - Budget Narrative

Salaries & Fringes         $18,749.66
Family Support Worker 20%
Fringes

Assistant Director 5%
 

Financial Manager 5%
Fringe

Asst. Facilitator 360.00
$10.00/hr x 36 hrs

Child Care Provider
8.00/hr x 72 hrs 576.00
Fringe 44.00
 620.00
Travel :  4,660 miles x $.365       $1701.00
Other:           $8,400.00

  Space Rental 20% of 1,000/mo for 17 mos  3,400.00
  Program Materials/Incentives    5,000.00
Total:           $28,850.66
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mobile County ? Mobile TEEN Center, Site 3 - Budget Narrative

Salaries & Fringes: $15,790.00
Educator (.50 FTE)(salary & fringe & 3% adm. cost)
Asst. Educator @ $10 an hour
Travel: Staff to transport participants to meetings and various activities  $1,000.00
Other:           $12,060.66
Supplies / Materials
Supplies                                           1600.00
Miscellaneous                                 1000.00

Publicity / Printing                              1890.00
Copying & Duplication

Baby Bucks@ Store                          6000.00
(baby items for incentives for participation)

Group Meetings                                1570.66
(food for participants @ meetings)
TOTAL $28,850.66
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Talladega County ? SAFE Family Services Center, Site 4 - Budget Narrative

Salaries:          $23,223.16

  Family Support Workers (30 hrs. per wk/50 wks)
    1500 hrs.
    Benefits (14%)

Assistant (10 hrs.wk/50wks)
  500 hrs. =
    Benefits (14%)
Travel:  3050 miles x $.365       $1,113.00

Other:           $4,500.00
  Supplies/ Materials for participants  1,000.00
  Incentives for Participants    3500.00

TOTAL:          $28,836.16
 Auburn University
Budget for Evaluation of "Family Connections in Alabama" project
Subcontract agreement with Children�s Trust Fund of Alabama
 
 

Requested from ACF

Salaries + fringe
$34,197

Supplies/Mailing
$  500

Travel
$  4272.23

Subject compensation
$2,400
Indirect Costs $10,756

Total Project Costs
$52,126
 

Narrative:
Salaries/fringe:
Project Director ? Ph.D. researcher @ 15% FTE + fringe
Project Manager: One doctoral level graduate student @ 50% FTE ? no fringe
Research Assistants will be paid at the hourly rate for doctoral student research assistants of $9.
Project consultant  - research methodologist - $250 per day
Supplies and Mailings in the amount of $500 will include project related copies, supplies, and mailing communications.
Travel amount of $4000 will be used to cover project-related travel of project director, project manager, and research assistants, payable by Auburn University travel reimbursement guidelines.  This will include travel to counties for training for instrument administration/data collection, meetings with project personnel, and in-state and out-of-state presentations of study results.
Subjects 120 control group participants @$10 X 2 times per year.
Indirect costs are at the University off-campus research projects 2003 rate of 26%.
 

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