Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program

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It is the goal of the curriculum to provide information and tools to
strengthen and connect families.
Connecting Families Creators
Dr. Natalie M. Ferry, author of the curriculum, is the coordinator of special program
initiatives for Penn State Cooperative Extension. In this role, she develops curriculum
materials for both adults and youth and provides statewide leadership for programming in
this area and workforce development. She has a doctorate degree in Adult Education.
Judy Ann Fitzgerald developed the design and layout of the educational materials. She
has created numerous curriculum, newsletters and web page layouts as a staff assistant
for Penn State Cooperative Extension.
For More Information, Contact:
Dr. Natalie M. Ferry
Coordinator of Special Program Initiatives
Penn State Cooperative Extension
401 Agricultural Administration Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 863-6150
Email nmf3@psu.edu
Connecting Families Penn State Cooperative Extension
Overview 3 2004
Connecting Families: A Relationship Enhancement Program
“Connecting Families” is an educational intervention that is designed for adults who are
engaged in a relationship or entering into one. The program sessions can assist various
audiences in learning more information about how relationships develop and function.
Embedded in each session are skills that can enhance the relationships viability and
happiness.
Relevant Audiences
Cohabitating and Visiting Couples
“Connecting Families” is designed to be used to assist low-income married, cohabitating
and visiting couples to learn more about what are the indicators of a happy supportive
martial relationship. For many individuals living in a low- income context, cohabitation is
the relationship structure of choice. It is imperative that facilitators have an
understanding of this evolving family structure and the reasons for its increasing
prevalence in society. Cohabitation has become a common living arrangement especially
in many low-income communities (Refer in the Research Section to the article, Changing
American Family). Providing relationship building skills for cohabiting and visiting
couples requires the facilitator to have sensitivity for the reasons that individuals are
engaged in these forms of relationships. The manner in which individuals living in
“fragile families” view marriage is not the same as a middle class perspective (Refer in
the Research Section to the article, Who Are Fragile Families?). Of equal importance is
being knowledgeable of the prevalence of domestic violence in this population and the
outcome that it has upon couple relationships and the choice to marry (Refer in the
Research Section to the article, Domestic Violence’s Effect on Marriage). Domestic
violence is an aspect of the lives of many low-income women and children. Facilitators
may encounter individuals who have experienced abuse as a child or adult. Domestic
violence can be an issue for these individuals in the decision process concerning
marriage. Facilitators need to be prepared to be able to assist individuals by providing
information about appropriate agencies within the community that can address issues of
abuse.
The impact of various family structures have upon children’s development is of concern
of policy makers. Many view marriage as the only form of family structure that has a
positive impact upon children’s development.

Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Veronica S. Haggerty

Counselor/Therapist

"A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best things that can happen to you. However, it can also be one of the biggest drains on you if the relationship is not working. Relationships are like bank accounts. The more you put in, the more you get back. Falling in love is the easy part, but long term relationships take work, commitment, and a willingness to adapt and change through life as a team. Learn about ways to keep a healthy relationship strong, or begin to today to work on repairing trust and renewing love for a relationship on the rocks".

Location: New Hope, PA
Credentials: MA, MFT, RN
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