New Collaboration to Promote Healthy Marriage, Responsible Fatherhood
 

On June 17, 2008, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the purpose of developing partnerships with organizations in support of the Healthy Marriage (HMI) and Responsible Fatherhood (RFI) Initiatives. The Office of Head Start (OHS) has invested over $40 million to provide voluntary marriage education services for the next five years. Highlights of the agreement include facilitation of outreach, technical assistance, training and education, best practice models and profile summaries, and effective communication.

ACF
NHSA
 

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the National Head Start Association (NHSA) are pleased to announce a Memorandum of Understanding that will provide a framework for coordination and collaboration between ACF and NHSA. The MOU is intended to improve child well-being by strengthening family formation through increased access to ACF Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiatives.

As a part of ACF’s endeavor to reach out to various entities for the purpose of developing partnerships with organizations in support of the Healthy Marriage (HMI) and Responsible Fatherhood (RFI) Initiatives, the National Head Start Association is viewed as a strategic partner as it is a leading service organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and families. The benefits of the MOU for both entities include, but are not limited to: establishing effective lines of communication for the distribution of HMI and RFI messages to increase awareness and facilitate outreach to Head Start and Early Head Start staff and families.

ACF launched the Healthy Marriage Initiative to help couples who are married or who have chosen marriage for themselves gain greater access to marriage education services, on a voluntary basis, where they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a healthy marriage. The Responsible Fatherhood Initiative promotes responsible fatherhood by funding programs that support healthy marriage activities, responsible parenting and foster economic stability.

There is a strong correlation between family structure and child well-being. Research shows that at-risk couples have higher divorce rates than other couples, and face challenges to maintain healthy marriages. According to the Head Start Annual Program Information Report (PIR) data, 43.13 percent of Head Start families are married, and many of the 56.87% single parent households include parents who aspire to marry and provide a two-parent family for their children. Head Start also serves 2,219 expectant mothers who are less than 18 years old.

The Office of Head Start (OHS) has invested over $40 million to provide voluntary marriage education services for the next five years. Programming funded through OHS’ healthy marriage grants is not only accessible to parents of Head Start age children, but to their older siblings also. OHS has awarded 24 Head Start agencies across the country with grants in amounts ranging from $40,000–$500,000. Please refer to the following site for a complete list of all 24 grantees:
http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/Family%20and%20Community%20Partnerships/Healthy%20Marriage%20Initiative/Healthy%20Marriage%20Initative/famcom_ann_00315_100307.html

With the signing of this initiative, programs can provide Head Start parents, who are interested, information which can lead to gaining a better knowledge of the advantages of marriage, and how increased father involvement can strengthen the bond between the parent and child. Some of the tenets of the MOU agreement include:

  • Facilitate outreach to Head Start and Early Head Start staff and families
  • Provide technical assistance in the development and implementation of activities
  • Train and educate the Head Start community
  • Share best practice models and profile summaries
  • Establish effective lines of communication

NHSA will feature an article detailing the initiative and MOU agreement in their upcoming issue of the Children & Families Magazine. Also, for additional information regarding the partnership, please contact your ACF regional office.

We look forward to this opportunity and invite you to be a part of this important work that will result in measurable benefits in the lives of Head Start children and their families.

Sincerely,

/ Patricia Brown /

Patricia Brown
Acting Director
Office of Head Start
Administration for Children and Families

/ Michael McGrady /

Michael McGrady
Interim Executive Director
National Head Start Association

 

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ACF Healthy Marriage Initiative. DHHS/ACF/ACYF/HSB. 2005. English.

Last Reviewed: June 2009

Last Updated: June 19, 2013