Program Description: Family Foundations was developed in collaboration with childbirth educators to enhance coparenting quality among couples who are expecting their first child. The program consists of four prenatal and four postnatal sessions, run once a week, with each two-hour session administered to groups of 6-10 couples. A trained male-female team leads the sessions and follows the Family Foundations curriculum. The female leader is a childbirth educator, and the male leader is experienced at working with families and leading groups. Ongoing observation of sessions facilitates regular supervision discussions.
The program focuses on coparenting and the coparenting relationship, rather than other romantic relationship or parenting qualities. In assisting parents to work together supportively, the program content covers emotional self-management, conflict management, problem solving, communication, and mutual support strategies. The program organizes material into three major domains: Feelings, Thoughts, and Communication. These domains help participants remember and utilize program tools. Parenting strategies include an understanding of temperament, fostering children’s self-regulation, and promoting attachment security. However, as the focus is on coparenting, these topics are examined in terms of whole-family dynamics. The prenatal classes introduce the couple to themes and skills, and the postnatal classes revisit the themes once the couple has experienced life as parents and coparents. The delivery is psychoeducational and skills-based, with didactic presentations, couple communication exercises, written worksheets, videotaped vignettes of other families, and group discussion. Skilled facilitators are able to maintain fidelity to the content while engaging parents in an interactive, supportive group learning context.
Results: Blueprints has certified two studies evaluating Family Foundations.
Study 1: In the first study (Feinberg & Kan, 2008), couples were randomly assigned in two small cities to the intervention (n=89) or to a control group (n=80) that received mailed literature on developmental stages and selecting quality childcare. Blueprints certified the long-term follow-up (6-7 years after program completion) reported in Feinberg et al. (2014), in which:
♦ Teachers reported lower rates of internalizing for the intervention group children (compared to the children in the control group).
♦ Additionally, intervention group boys had lower teacher-rated attention problems, as well as fewer anxious/depressed, aggressive, and internalizing and externalizing behaviors.
Characteristics of Study 1 Sample as Reported by Study Authors:
Study 2: The second Blueprints-certified study included cohabiting heterosexual couples from three mid-Atlantic and one southern state. Couples were randomly assigned to the intervention (n=221) or control condition (n=178) which received materials on childcare and child development. Feinberg and Gedaly (2021) found at the 7-year follow-up assessment that the intervention group, compared to the control group, showed significantly better observer-rated positive affect, negative affect, physical aggression toward objects, and affection toward parents, and significantly lower teacher-rated externalizing behavior.
Characteristics of Study 2 Sample as Reported by Study Authors:
Cost-Benefits: To date, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy has not conducted a cost-benefit analysis of implementing Family Foundations.
Study 1: Feinberg, M. E., Jones, D. E., Roettger, M., Solmeyer, A., & Hostetler, M. L. (2014). Long-term follow-up of a randomized trial of Family Foundations: Effects on children’s emotional, behavioral, and school adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 28(6), 821-831.
Study 2: Feinberg, M., & Gedaly, L. (2021). Family Foundations child outcomes at age 7: Teacher ratings and observational outcomes [Unpublished manuscript]. The Pennsylvania State University.
Read the Program Fact Sheet