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New Mexico State University

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NMSU receives $2.39 million grant to expand healthy marriage project in Dona Ana County

New Mexico State University's Strengthening Families Initiative has received a $2.39 million grant to continue and expand a healthy marriage program that provides comprehensive services for single parents and cohabiting or married couples with children.


The funding is from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. Funds will be spread out over three years.

"Funds will be used to develop the New Mexico Border Communities Healthy Marriage and Relationship Project that will provide marriage and relationship classes and career advancement services to predominantly Hispanic, low-income adults in Dona Ana County," said Esther Devall, interim department head of the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

"Eighteen class series will be offered to 270 adults and their children in communities throughout the county. The Family Wellness Program curriculum will be used to promote healthy, stable relationships. Each class series will consist of 12 two-hour sessions for the entire family. Light meals and childcare will be provided."

Highly-trained bi-lingual facilitators will provide the skills training in communication and conflict resolution, effective discipline and family functioning. Participants will also be educated on intimate partner violence and child maltreatment.

NMSU has conducted similar training in Dona Ana County and the Albuquerque Metroplex for the past five years. Approximately 1,500 individuals have been served by the Family Wellness Program.

"Participation in the family wellness classes is voluntary, and open to all individuals regardless of gender, age, race, marital status, disability, sexual preference and immigration status," Devall said.

Families will be screened for domestic violence and child maltreatment, and referred to local agencies as appropriate. In addition to participating in the evaluation, adult participants will complete a brief questionnaire tied to the family wellness curriculum to assess their gains in relationship skills, parenting skills and family functioning.

"The participants will also be screened for work readiness, and a self-sufficiency plan will be developed," Devall said. "They will receive individualized case management consistent with the results of the screening tools. Career facilitators will act as liaisons with community agencies and follow up on referrals."

For more information about the program, contact Lisa Shields at 575-646-3560.