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Healthy Relationships Program Awarded Health and Human Services Grant

New York City, NY (January 05, 2012) - University Behavioral Associates (UBA) of Montefiore Medical Center has received a $2.4 million award from the federal Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), to continue providing marriage and relationship education to low-income couples with children in the Bronx, New York.

The award will enable Montefiore to continue to provide workshops, led by psychologists, to married and unmarried couples with children, helping them to achieve family and financial stability. The program will teach communication and conflict management skills, offer counseling to couples in distress and provide employment services to help the unemployed and underemployed.

"This grant enables us to continue our mission to help couples understand how to form and maintain better relationships, to become better parents for their children, and to maintain more stable homes," said Scott Wetzler. Ph.D., Vice Chairman of UBA. Our program model is based on the belief that relationship skills can be taught, that employment services are best delivered in a family-friendly setting, that case management and support services help to maintain engagement in the program and that couples' therapy is needed for couples at highest levels of distress."

There is no community with a greater need for relationship education program than the Bronx, with the nation's highest poverty rate, the highest child poverty rate and the lowest median household income. Only 37% of children in the Bronx live in a married-couple family and 63% of children reside with a single mother. In 2006, funded by the federal government's Administration for Children and Families, University Behavioral Associates (UBA) established a Supporting Healthy Marriage program which was also selected as a site for government study. To date, UBA has enrolled 1,133 married couples (the highest rate of recruitment among all sites) due to the enormous need and demand for relationship education services in this community.

"A strong and stable family is the greatest advantage any child can have," said George Sheldon, HHS acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families. "These grants support programs that promote responsible parenting, encourage healthy relationships and marriage and help families move toward self-sufficiency and economic stability."

As part of the program, employment specialists assist couples with job search/placement and job skill-building by providing individual career counseling, employment workshops and job training referrals. "The employment assistance component provided by Supporting Healthy Relationships is a novel and possibly better way of delivering this service, because it increases motivation by making clear connections to the benefits that employment provides to a couple's children," added Samantha Litzinger, Ph.D., Clinical Program Director.