Young Couples Are Benefiting from 30 Years of Relationship Education Advocacy
San Diego, CA—October 17, 2018—Recent reports of a significantly declining U.S. divorce rate are cause for celebration among thousands of organizations and tens of thousands of people who have focused on improving the health of couple and family relationships over the last 30 years, says K. Jason Krafsky, Vice President of the Relationship Education (RE) organization Healthy Relationships California (HRC).
“We’re gratified to hear that Gen Xers and Millennials seem to be reversing the trends of the Baby Boomers,” says Krafsky, who has been involved in family-strengthening efforts for more than two decades. “We know their attitudes toward marriage and divorce are the result of a societal climate created over a quarter-century by a diverse group of people committed to promoting healthy relationships.”
HRC has been at the heart of this effort. Over the last thirteen years, HRC has taught RE to more than 200,000 Californians through a series of federally funded grants. Other leaders in the field work to respond in a variety of ways to research showing the detrimental effects of divorce and family dissolution on a variety of social problems, including child maltreatment, domestic violence, poverty, crime, substance abuse, and low academic achievement.
These organizations encompass all strata of society, across the ideological spectrum, including private foundations and federally funded non-profits, both secular and religious, led by conservatives and liberals, academics and researchers, therapists and social workers, and clergy and military chaplains. These efforts reach Americans living in inner cities, the suburbs, as well as rural areas.
“Many avenues are, and have been, explored to address the distressing breakdown of families,” Krafsky emphasizes. These avenues include African-American leaders tackling fatherlessness and its contributing factors in urban areas; local social service departments mitigating barriers faced by non-custodial fathers due to child support issues; numerous minority communities delivering Relationship Education in their native languages (Spanish, Korean, Hmong, Farsi, and Mandarin among them); the faith community requiring and providing pre-marital education to engaged and seriously dating couples; and a significant expansion in resources and access to relationship help for married, unmarried, and distressed couples; parents, step-parents, and co-parents; teens, young adults, and single, divorced, and widowed adults through live workshops as well as the utilization of the latest technologies, including websites, apps, video streaming, and podcasts.
“Not only do young people entering into romantic relationships today have more resources available to them, they also are benefiting from a cultural shift that makes it more acceptable to express a need for help in these areas,” Krafsky explains.
Attempts to build nation-wide support for healthy-marriage and strong-family initiatives began in earnest in the late 1980s, and these efforts have received bi-partisan government support since the early 1990s, when Federal investments in programs addressing fatherlessness and father/child relationships began under President Clinton. These initiatives were expanded, with an added emphasis on healthy marriages, by President Bush, and have continued to be funded by the subsequent administrations, both Democrat and Republican.
All of this work has spurred numerous research studies over the years, on topics including the federal and state costs of family breakdown; the impact of divorce on children; the effects of teaching Relationship Education to high-risk populations; and the impact of community-based programs that address issues such as increasing father involvement, improving the health of marriage relationships, and tackling social ills such as domestic violence. Through the publication of countless white papers, research briefs, and reports, the field has shared insights on what works and what doesn’t.
“No one person, group, or initiative can take full credit for the positive trends we are now witnessing,” Krafsky asserts. “Our collective efforts over decades have raised awareness, provided resources, given hope, and changed lives. This work is valuable and it’s making a difference. I encourage all of us involved in this effort to take a moment to pause and celebrate. And then get back to work to keep the positive trendline moving ever higher.”
Healthy Relationships California offers Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood programs through local Partnering Organizations along the West Coast, and has served over 200,000 individuals in evidence-based curricula in the past 13 years. Funding for HRC’s current project is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant # 90FK0108. www.RelationshipsCA.org