• January 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 1

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Cultural Adaptations to Family-Strengthening Programs

The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 funded several marriage education programs that target Hispanic couples; however, little is known about the effectiveness of these programs in reaching and serving this population. The Administration for Children and Families' Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) funded the Hispanic Healthy Marriage Initiative Grantee Implementation (HHMI) Evaluation to examine intervention adaptations that increase cultural responsiveness. The latest in a series of reports from the evaluation examines HHMI project revisions to make family-strengthening programs more culturally relevant.

Despite the fact that Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the United States—expected to be nearly 20 percent of the nation's population by 2030—human services interventions are often created by and for White, nonminority populations. The lack of cultural responsiveness in family-strengthening interventions can impact the recruitment, retention, effectiveness, and overall participation of these programs. Additionally, a lack of cultural relevance often is cited by individuals as a reason for not seeking services. This is particularly poignant given that less than 60 percent of Hispanic children live with two married biological or adoptive parents, and Hispanic children are three times as likely as non-Hispanic White children to live in poverty.

Adaptations employed by HHMI grantees aimed to fulfill one of two goals: (1) increase program participation and (2) increase effectiveness by targeting the underlying risk and protective factors that correlate with program outcomes. Adaptations included those that addressed language, diversity, racism, and immigration issues. The report focused on family-strengthening programs describes the cultural values adaptations undertaken by the grantees, including the following: 

  • Familismo, family-centeredness
  • Confianza, confidence, trust, and intimacy in a relationship
  • Personalismo, preference for warm, personal interactions,
  • Respeto, deferential behavior toward people with higher social rank, such as age, gender, or authority
  • Machismo and Marianismo, traditional gender roles that guide behaviors 

Hispanics and Family-Strengthening Programs: Cultural Strategies to Enhance Program Participation, and the previous four evaluation reports, are available on the OPRE website:


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