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ERIC Number: ED536821
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Jun
Pages: 73
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
Encouraging Strong Family Relationships. Policy Matters: Setting and Measuring Benchmarks for State Policies. A Discussion Paper for the "Policy Matters" Project
Anyabwile, Thabiti
Center for the Study of Social Policy
"Policy Matters" is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. The "Policy Matters" project is designed to develop and make available coherent, comprehensive information regarding the strength and adequacy of state policies affecting children, families, and communities. The project seeks to establish consensus among policy experts and state leaders regarding the mix of policies believed to offer the best opportunity for improving child and family well-being. A series of policy briefs, policy papers, guides for self-assessment, and 50-state comparative reports is envisioned. The project focuses on six core results: school readiness, educational success, family economic success, healthy families, youth development, and strong family relationships. Together, these six core results and the policies designed to achieve them make up a state-level family-strengthening policy agenda. This paper puts forth an approach to setting benchmarks for a state policy agenda to encourage stronger family relationships. Given current policy concerns for the well-being of families and the hardships some families are experiencing, an examination of state policy efforts and trends to strengthen families is timely. The current paper offers a beginning statement on the importance of solid, evidence-informed recommendations to help states encourage the development of stronger family bonds and resilience in the face of economic and social pressures. Section I of the paper provides a brief introduction to some current family policy issues and questions in the U.S. Section II reviews data and research on the impact of family structure, economic conditions, and the quality of familial relationships on the well-being of family members. This section also includes a brief look at the growing diversity of American families sometimes overlooked in U.S. family policy debates. Section III suggests a state-level policy framework focusing on the formation, maintenance, stability and safety of families. Section IV recommends a series of policies with potential for improving child and family relationships. This section details the policy options and preliminary benchmarks that research and practice evidence suggest can promote successful family formation and maintenance outcomes. While other policy remedies are possible, and are discussed in other "Policy Matters" volumes, this paper attempts to limit its focus to those policies that promote the relational success of families and to those policies with greater research and practice evidence in support of their effectiveness. Over time, the recommendations and benchmarks will be improved as more research and practice evidence is available. Thus, this paper presents a preliminary set of benchmarks. This paper is an invitation for further deliberation and action regarding policies leading to stronger family relationships. Moving forward, the project aims to expand this initial statement to a national bi-partisan consensus on policy directions for those interested in promoting positive family outcomes. Policy Matters Project Overview is appended. (Contains 9 tables, 4 figures and 156 endnotes.) [For companion brief, "Encouraging Strong Family Relationships. State Policies That Work. Brief Number 6," see ED536813.]
Center for the Study of Social Policy. 1575 Eye Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-371-1565; Fax: 202-371-1472; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Social Policy