Family structure changed rapidly in the second half of the 20th century, with two-parent families increasingly replaced by other family forms. Divorce is common, one-third of all births occur out of wedlock, and cohabiting couples are widespread. The decline of marriage has been particularly evident in poor communities. In this societal context, three of the four purposes of the 1996 welfare legislation were related to marriage and family formation: states were urged to promote marriage, reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing, and support two-parent families. Panelists at this First Tuesday forum explored how states and communities might implement these programs, examining the range of programs currently available to strengthen marriages and relationships, how they operate in varied settings, how service systems for low-income families can incorporate a focus on marriage and relationships, and the potential challenges in responding to the circumstances of low-income people. (Author abstract)
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Thinking outside the beltway : opportunities and challenges for healthy marriage services.