Research suggests that by taking a more holistic approach to strengthening families, including provision of relationship education, safety-net services can have a more widespread impact, essentially strengthening the safety-net for families who have traditionally not had access to or resources to support critical interpersonal relationships.
The Blueprint for Integration (Blueprint) section highlights our mission to promote the integration of healthy marriage and relationship education into safety-net service systems as part of a holistic approach to strengthening families. Integration can take place in different ways based on local strengths, needs, and capacity. The Blueprint identifies key elements that contribute to successful integration of relationship education and core “readiness factors” commonly found in alumni who have successfully integrated, offering clear “next steps” forward in furthering the field of relationship education among all service delivery types. Additionally, this Blueprint can support integration of other initiatives into existing service delivery systems as well.
What does successful integration look like?
In 2012, the Resource Center developed a structured curriculum and began facilitating Integration Institutes (Institutes) to assist key stakeholders in building internal and external capacity for relationship education integration into their existing service delivery systems. The goals of these one-day state Integration Institute trainings were to further develop awareness of relationship education, explore the relevance of relationship education to agencies’ specific performance outcomes, and facilitate conversations across stakeholder agencies regarding integration of relationship education into their systems.
During the Institutes, participants were introduced to The Resource Center’s Levels of Integration concept to visualize integration efforts at different points on an integration continuum: 1) Basic Engagement; 2) Partnerships; and, 3) Full Integration.
Levels of Integration
Basic information sharing among colleagues and clients about healthy marriage and relationship education. Commonly seen in the forms of brochures or hangouts for clients and sharing tip sheets or fact sheets with colleagues.
The development of partnerships that provide healthy marriage and relationship education skills through avenues such as referral of clients to a partner agency or partnering to being a workshop onsite.
The incorporation of healthy marriage and relationship education skills into existing programming or services delivery systems. Skills may be integrated as individual components, such as parenting or financial literacy, or a comprehensive healthy marriage and relationship education program.
One of the many notable outcomes of the Institutes of was that the participants (from diverse organizations) operationalized the levels of integration—in essence, they detailed the activities that could occur at each level of integration. The exhibit below details the overarching trends.
Action Plan Ideas Based on Level of Integration
All in all, the way an agency chooses to integrate healthy marriage and relationship education will depend on their service delivery system and the resources available. Some stakeholders may only be able to offer handouts during client visits or home visits. Other stakeholders may be able to create partnerships that help integrate healthy marriage and relationship education workshops or skill-based classes into the services they offer families. Still other stakeholders may have the capacity for a train-the-trainer model to learn and then teach healthy marriage and relationship education skills directly to the couples, families, or individuals that they serve.
No matter which strategy is selected, integrating healthy marriage and relationship education can strengthen families in the community.
For more specifics to support integration efforts, access the Integration Strategies, Success Stories, and other resources in this section.
Blueprint for Integration