Smart Marriages ® cmfce
Sun Sep 26 22:30:55 EDT 2004


Hi - I'm back. I checked out hotels in Anaheim for the '06 or '07 Smart
Marriages conference, attended the Orange County Healthy Marriage Coalition
monthly meeting, and attended the African American Healthy Marriage
Initiative Hip Hop Forum in LA. I'll fill you in on those and also try to
reply to your emails asap, BUT, the BIG NEWS, is that Thursday ACF announced
the Healthy Marriage Resource Center Grant recipient.

Here are press releases from ACF, NCFR, BYU plus several articles from the
Minnesota press to fill you in. - diane




Thursday, September 23, 2004
Contact: ACF Press Office
(202) 401-9215

Minnesota group to serve as national repository, clearinghouse

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced today the awarding of a $900,000
grant to the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) in Minneapolis to
create a nationwide repository for healthy marriage programs.

Dr. Wade F. Horn, HHS Assistant Secretary for Children and Families,
announced the grant on behalf of President George W. Bush and Secretary
Thompson at the University of Minnesota today.?He was joined by Michael L.
Benjamin, the Executive Director of NCFR, and William Doherty, PhD, a past
president of the organization.

?The healthy marriage resource center will serve as the central
clearinghouse for President Bush?s ongoing initiative to strengthen families
through access to voluntary healthy marriage education,? said Horn.??Through
research, statistics and analysis, it will help couples and individuals
considering marriage get helpful information about how to form and sustain a
healthy marriage.?

The National Council on Family Relations will develop and operate the
healthy marriage resource center in partnership with five universities and
the Child Trends organization of Washington, D.C.?The universities involved
are the University of Minnesota, Norfolk State University, Syracuse
University, Brigham Young University and Texas Tech University.

The center will synthesize research and evaluate findings on healthy
marriages, summarize relevant information about best practices and develop
products and services designed to help interested individuals, couples and
organizations learn about effective approaches to creating and implementing
innovative healthy marriage programs.

The grant of $900,000 is for one year, with potential funding of up to $4.5
million over five years.?The grantee will create a website clearinghouse in
addition to maintaining a healthy marriage program database for individuals,
educators, practitioners and government officials.

Centralized, national clearinghouse will provide research-based, nonpartisan
information about what makes marriages successful.
MINNEAPOLIS x Approximately 90 percent of Americans get married during their
lifetime. Unfortunately nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.
Yet according to the National Council on Family Relations, research
indicates that with premarital preparation, good relationship skills and
supportive interventions, many more Americans would enjoy happy marriages.
But reliable, research-based and nonpartisan information about healthy
marriage has often been difficult to find.
Now a centralized, national clearinghouse will make this information readily
available to federal, state, and local governments; educational
institutions; private and public agencies; faith-based and community
organizations; and interested individuals.
The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) has received a grant for
$900,000 per year for up to 5 years from the Administration of Children and
Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish
the Healthy Marriage Resource Center. The Center will be developed over the
next five years. Its initial Web site will go live by early 2005.
To create the Center, NCFR is collaborating with Child Trends, a nonpartisan
research organization, located in Washington, D.C., and five major
universities: Brigham Young University, Syracuse University, Texas Tech
University, Norfolk State University and the University of Minnesota. x
The Center has five main functions:
To collect and disseminate information on healthy marriage.
To create resources and tools to aid marriage educators, practitioners,
community activists, and other interested individuals and groups.
To collect, organize, synthesize, and disseminate research findings about
how to build and sustain healthy marriages.
To collect, foster, and articulate best practices for practitioners, such as
marriage counselors, social workers, clergy, and mental health
To communicate information about healthy marriage to practitioners,
policymakers, legislators, and the general public.

The Center will offer a regular listserv for electronic news and will
publish newsletters and other publications targeted at specific populations
and audiences. Beginning in 2006, the Center will host an annual Marriage
Summit. NCFR will convene participants from across the political, regional,
cultural, and educational spectrum to coordinate healthy marriage efforts,
advise the Center and discuss the current state of marriage.
Founded in 1938, the National Council on Family Relations is the nation's
oldest multidisciplinary family organization and the only professional
organization focused solely on family research, policy and practice. Its
educational mission is to provide a forum for family researchers, educators
and practitioners to share in the development of knowledge about families
and relationships, to establish professional standards and to work to
promote family well-being.
NCFR?s nonpartisan, international membership comprises some 4000 members who
include educators, researchers, family life educators, therapists,
psychologists, social workers, health care professionals, policymakers and
clergy. NCFR publishes two highly regarded scholarly journals: The Journal
of Marriage and Family and Family Relations: Interdisciplinary Journal of
Applied Family Studies.
For more information about the Healthy Marriage Resource Center, contact
NCFR Executive Director, Michael Benjamin, at 763-781-9331 X21 or
mbenjamin at


By Tad Walch
Deseret Morning News
Sept 24, 2004

PROVO x Starry-eyed couples preparing for marriage and struggling
husbands and wives trying to stay together will soon have a new resource
that draws on experts at Brigham Young University x the National Healthy
Marriage Resource Center.

The center could launch a Web site with the largest collection of
research on successful marriages by early next year, officials said Thursday
after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it has
selected BYU's School of Family Life and four other major universities to
create and operate the center.

The center, funded by an annual $900,000 federal grant, is designed to
protect and nurture children, said Wade Horn, U.S. assistant secretary for
children and families.

"The most important object of the healthy marriage initiative is to
benefit children," Horn said. "Children do better in married households than
unmarried households and do better in stable homes than in unstable homes.
We want to increase the number of children in married, stable households and
decrease the number in unmarried, unstable households."

Coincidentally, the announcement was made nine years to the day after
BYU's sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued its
"Proclamation on the Family." The proclamation declared that "children are
entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a
father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity."

The partnership includes BYU, Syracuse University, Texas Tech
University, Norfolk State University, the University of Minnesota, the
National Council on Family Relations and Child Trends, a nonpartisan
research organization in Washington, D.C.

The Healthy Marriage Resource Center's Web site and printed materials
will serve couples, therapists, researchers, state and local governments and
community and faith-based organizations, Horn said.

The center is part of President Bush's sometimes controversial healthy
marriage initiative, which urges government to make public policy decisions
in harmony with recent research that found marriage to be a stabilizing
factor in society.

Debate has spiked as Utahns prepare to vote on a measure that would
ban same-sex marriages in the state. Thursday's announcement steered clear
of that subject and carefully stressed the nonpartisan nature of the center.
However, experts involved in the new center noted the research Bush has

"Family life and marriage are crucial for the well-being of society,"
said William J. Doherty, author of "The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals
to Build Family" and past president of the National Council on Family
Relations. "Government ends up picking up the tab in welfare, health care
and prisons for families that fall apart.

"You can basically guarantee that the whole productivity of our nation
rides on the ability of men and women to come together in marriage and raise
children successfully."

Doherty is a professor of family social science at the University of
Minnesota, which is tasked with supporting grass-roots efforts to encourage
premarital education.

BYU will assume the responsibility of collecting and synthesizing
research related to healthy marriages, BYU professor Alan Hawkins said.

"This project will allow those working to strengthen marriages in
their communities to access tools to help them in their work," said Hawkins,
BYU's team leader on the project. "In addition, the center will help them
keep up with the growing body of research related to healthy marriages."

Doherty said BYU is uniquely positioned to benefit the Healthy
Marriage Resource Center.

"BYU has a critical mass of marriage researchers," he said. "They are
as good as any or better than any academic program in the country. That's
why they're perfect for what they're doing."

The BYU team consists of Hawkins, an expert in human development and
family studies; Jeffry Larson, a professor of marriage and family therapy;
and Tim Heaton, a social demographer, but will be able to draw on the
school's other researchers.

Hawkins said they also will be assisted by three graduate students,
and the team will devote nearly 100 hours a week to their project.

The Healthy Marriage Resource Center will publish newsletters and
other publications targeted at specific audiences. In 2006, the center will
host an annual Marriage Summit.

Much of the key information researchers hope to provide relates to
premarital education. Some communities and churches are refusing to marry
couples without it, some requiring as much as six months of coursework.

Studies have "provided evidence," he added, "that many of the seeds of
marital distress and divorce are sown before the couples say, 'I do.' "

The Associated Press
September 24, 2004

ST. PAUL - Making sure potential spouses know what they're getting into
before they get married is one goal of a federally funded Healthy Marriage
Resource Center being created in Minnesota.

The center, designed to create stronger marriages, received a $900,000
federal grant on Thursday as part of the Bush Administration's quest to
promote families. The grant could be renewed for four years, bringing the
total federal investment to $4.5 million.

It is the first time the federal government is funding a resource center to
help couples who choose to marry, said Wade Horn, assistant secretary for
children and families with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Organizers expect to create a Web site by early next year for an audience of
couples, academic researchers, counselors, faith-based organizations and
others. The Web site will collect information, provide resources for
educators, publicize research findings, provide tips for practitioners and
foster communication on healthy marriages.

The National Council on Family Relations, based in Minneapolis, will oversee
the effort and the University of Minnesota will coordinate a portion of the
project focusing on citizen-based initiatives for sustaining healthy

Other members of the team include Child Trends, Inc. of Washington, D.C.,
and Brigham Young, Norfolk State, Syracuse, and Texas Tech universities.

William Doherty, a University of Minnesota professor of family social
science, said the center can play a critical role in a country where "it's
easier to get a marriage license than it is to get a driver's license."

"I just got asked yesterday where could a couple attend a marriage education
course and I couldn't tell them," Doherty said. "This is one of the reasons
this clearinghouse is needed. We need to train a much bigger cadre of people
as marriage educators."

About 90 percent of Americans get married at some point in their life but
approximately half end in divorce, according to the National Council on
Family Relations.

Horn said the project does not seek to increase marriage rates or interfere
in private lives, but only to provide a resource to those who seek it out

"Marriage is not a dirty word to most Americans," he said. "It doesn't work
out for everyone, but most Americans aspire to it ... All we're saying is
let's be on the side of people's aspirations. Nobody wants to force anybody
to get married. I really have no interest in starting a dating service."

He also indicated that the center won't take a position in the current
debate on gay marriage.

"If someone calls us or goes to the Web site, there's not going to be a
question, 'What's your sexual orientation?'" he said. "It is not a
referendum on gay marriage."

Mary Jane Smetanka, Star Tribune
September 24, 2004

How do you promote healthy marriages? Perhaps by having some people decide
not to wed.

Making sure potential spouses know what they're getting into and
demystifying what makes a good marriage are two goals of a federally funded
center being created by a Minneapolis-based nonprofit and five universities,
including the University of Minnesota. The center, to be developed over the
next five years, will have a Web presence by early 2005.

William Doherty, a University of Minnesota professor of family social
science who will work on the project, said the multi-million-dollar Healthy
Marriage Resource Center can play a critical role in a country where "it's
easier to get a marriage license than it is to get a driver's license." Bad
marriages not only hurt couples, he said, but can have long-term
consequences for children.

Federal officials came to the Twin Cities on Thursday to announce a $900,000
center grant, which will be coordinated by the National Council on Family
Relations. The council, created in 1938, focuses on family research, policy
and practice. The grant could be renewed for four years, bringing total
federal investment to $4.5 million. Wade Horn, assistant secretary for
children and families in the federal Department of Health and Human
Services, called the center's creation a "historic achievement."

"This is the first time the federal government will fund a resource center
helping couples on a voluntary basis who are choosing marriage for
themselves and making healthy choices," he said.

While there is much research on what makes a happy marriage and many
programs to help couples, finding that information can be difficult, said
Horn and others. The center will collect that information, evaluate
findings, develop ways to help get the most effective assistance to the
community and publish information on its Web site.

The University of Minnesota will work on community and citizen

Doherty said his goal is to develop marriage preparation programs that are
as widespread and popular as Minnesota's early childhood education programs,
which he said have become part of the state's culture.

Faith-based communities are a good place to start looking for such programs,
he said, because 80 percent of marriages take place in those communities.
One example of the work already taking place is a coalition of clergy who
pledged not to marry couples unless they have six months of preparatory
classes or counseling. That joint agreement helps clergy members resist
pressure to rush a couple to the altar, Doherty said.

According to the council, about 90 percent of Americans will marry at least
once. Research shows that married couples generally have a higher standard
of living than single people, and children are more likely to be
well-adjusted if their parents are happily married.

Horn said establishment of the center does not mean that the federal
government is removing services to children. The center will act as an
advocate for healthy marriage, he said, not just marriage. About 15 percent
of couples who go through pre-marriage counseling decide not to get married,
he said, and that can be a good thing.

He also indicated that the center won't take a position in the current
debate on gay marriage. "If someone calls us or goes to the Web site,
there's not going to be a question, 'What's your sexual orientation?' " he
said. "It is not a referendum on gay marriage."

News about the center was enthusiastically received at the announcement. The
small audience included academics, clergy members, politicians and people
from activist groups. Penny Steele, a Republican and a Hennepin County
commissioner, said she was cheered that people are finally openly discussing
marriage's effects on social problems. While that may be stating the
obvious, she said, "People have been afraid to talk of marriage."

Besides the University of Minnesota, partners in the center are Brigham
Young University, which will act as the research hub, collecting information
and putting it into understandable terms; Child Trends Inc. of Washington,
D.C., which will handle public affairs; Norfolk State University, which will
reach out to faith-based groups and historic black colleges and
universities; Syracuse University, which will work with practitioners to
develop best practices, and Texas Tech University, which will work on the
information clearinghouse and Web site.

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