Contact: Deedie Dowdle, (334) 844-9999 (
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (
AU COLLEGE OF HUMAN SCIENCES AWARDED RESEARCH GRANT OF MORE THAN $8 MILLION
AUBURN - Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences has received a grant totaling more
than $8.2 million to support the work of the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative.
AU’s Center for Children, Youth and Families within the College received the five-year grant
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Family Assistance.
The initiative will support a variety of educational programs and resources offered throughout
the state that support healthy relationships and marriages.
“Historically, this is an area that has not been a focus in programs and services for families,
yet, we have research-based information that can be offered through educational programs to
assist Alabamians build and sustain healthy relationships and marriages,” said Francesca
Adler-Baeder, associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Extension
Specialist and Principal Investigator for the project.
The funds will allow AU researchers, working in partnership with the Alabama Department of
Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention as well as an established network of other state and
community entities, to continue to provide access to marriage education programs for
Specifically, the grant aims to strengthen family bonds by raising public awareness of the
importance of healthy marriages for child, family and community well being; increasing access
to healthy marriage resources; and training community members and professionals in
methods of best practices for marriage initiatives by providing programming for youth, nonmarried
parents, premarital couples and married couples.
“What we are trying to do is promote access to this information for our citizens and to effect
positive changes in people’s lives - in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their
communities,” said Adler-Baeder. “For the past four years, we have been piloting methods for
doing this work among youth, new parents, co-parents and married couples and now have the
opportunity to greatly expand this outreach effort and research the impact this work can
College of Human Sciences Dean June Henton said the impressive grant is a strong affirmation
of the ground-breaking work being done by scientists at the Center.
“Healthy family relationships foster a safe, nurturant environment for children and ultimately
serve as the foundation for a stable and economically vibrant society,” said Henton.
U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee,
announced Wednesday the release of an initial $1.6 million for the project.
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“Healthy marriages and stable homes have a significant impact on a child’s development,” said
Sen. Shelby. “Working to improve the lives of Alabamians, both young and old, is an essential
element to our state’s continued growth and prosperity.”
Alabama has a persistent history of high levels of marital and family instability. According to
figures released in 2003 by the U.S. Census Bureau, Alabama has one of the highest divorce
rates in the nation, consistently ranking in the top 5 or top 10 for the past 62 years.
AU faculty and their partners involved with the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage
Initiative hope to use the federal funds to increase the number of service providers in
communities around the state who offer relationship and marriage education programs,
increase the number of citizens who access this information, and ultimately increase the
proportion of citizens experiencing relational and marital stability among other goals.
Auburn University is a preeminent land-grant and comprehensive research institution with
more than 23,500 students and 6,500 faculty and staff. Ranked among the top 50 public
universities nationally, Auburn offers more than 230 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral
(Contributed by Katie Wilder.)
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