Does relationship education really work?

How does PREP, Inc. know that relationship education works? That’s the question that many researchers are spending long hours trying to answer. Gathering data about the effectiveness of relationship education is a challenge because there are so many variables to navigate over a long period of time. However, when we do get solid findings from well-designed studies, it’s special. A recent Administration for Children and Families (ACF) study (called PACT– Parents and Children Together) is an example we’d like to share with all PREP facilitators.

PACT ACF (which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) funded research into the effectiveness of relationship education by studying two sites (one in Brooklyn and one in El Paso) that provide relationship education services to a large number of couples.

Overall, there were 1,595 participants—some unmarried, some married (59%), all low-income couples with kids.

What PACT sought to learn was how the attendees of these relationship workshops were doing one year later when it came to: (1) the status and quality of the couples’ relationships, (2) the quality of the co-parenting relationships, and (3) job and career advancement.

Since PREP is primarily concerned with helping couples succeed, we’ve narrowed the results to those findings. The impacts were modest but worth taking note of given the highly rigorous research design of the study:

  • the workshop improved the commitment partners felt for one another.
  • the workshop improved levels of support and affection shown to one another.
  • the workshop decreased frequency of destructive conflict behaviors.
  • couples were more likely (than control group) to have stayed married after attending the relationship education workshop at 1 year out (by 4 percentage points).
  • co-parenting relationships also improved after the workshop.
  • instances of severe physical assault at 1 year after the workshop were 3% lower in treatment group (those who attended the workshop) than in the control group (those who did not attend the workshop).


Here’s what PREP has learned that’s so powerful: relationship education programs can be beneficial to low-income families in important ways.

PREP curricula, specifically, are an important part of this study, as one of the two sites used PREP’s Within Our Reach curriculum.

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To find the full study results, visit:

For a summary of results, visit:



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