Marriage resource: U.S. sponsors new center

BYU, others to create Internet site of reliable research data

PROVO, Utah — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has selected the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University along with the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and a team of four other major universities to create and operate the first National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. With a $900,000 grant per year, the comprehensive, national center will collect and make accessible all reliable marriage research and resources over the next five years.

"With the ever increasing interest in the institution of marriage and related public policy, there is a great demand for a centralized, national clearinghouse of reliable, non-partisan, research-based information," said Alan Hawkins, BYU professor and BYU team director for the Healthy Marriage Resource Center. "This project will allow those working to strengthen marriages in their communities to access to tools to help them in their work. In addition, the center will help them keep up with the growing body of research related to healthy marriages."

To create the center, BYU is collaborating with NCFR, a nonpartisan multidisciplinary professional family organization; Child Trends, a nonpartisan research organization, located in Washington, D.C.; and four other universities: Syracuse University, Texas Tech University, Norfolk State University and the University of Minnesota.

In addition to being the center's western region hub, BYU will be its research hub. The School of Family Life will assume primary responsibility for the efforts to collect and synthesize research related to healthy marriages. This research will then be published in various forms to ensure the information is readily available to federal, state, and local governments; educational institutions; private and public agencies; faith-based and community organizations; and interested individuals.

"We are committed to bringing the highest level of scholarship to this task," Brother Hawkins said. "BYU brings to this task the largest concentration of marriage scholars and educators of any university in the nation. In particular, three scholars from three different disciplines along with three graduate students will donate nearly 70 hours a week to keeping the public informed."

The Center has five main functions:

• To collect and disseminate information on healthy marriage.

• To create resources and tools to aid marriage educators, practitioners, community activists, and other interested individuals and groups.

• To collect, organize, synthesize, and disseminate research findings about how to build and sustain healthy marriages.

• To collect, foster, and articulate best practices for practitioners, such as marriage counselors, social workers, clergy, and mental health professionals.

• To communicate information about healthy marriage to practitioners, policymakers, legislators, and the general public.

The center will offer a regular listserver for electronic news and will publish newsletters and other publications targeted at specific populations and audiences. Beginning in 2006, it will host an annual Marriage Summit. NCFR will convene participants from across the political, regional, cultural, and educational spectrum to coordinate healthy marriage efforts, advise the center and discuss the current state of marriage.

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