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Update: Strengthening Marriages and Relationships Training (SMART) Florida Project

The SMART Couples Florida project is about strengthening families and relationships in order to increase the overall health and economic well-being of adults and children. The idea behind the SMART Couples Florida project is to provide relationship skills, tools, and resources for traditional and non-traditional couples, as well as individuals who are interested in marriage, to strengthen their relationships.     

This project has been implemented in five counties across Florida (Santa Rosa, Citrus, Manatee, Palm Beach, and Duval), which represent Florida’s rural and urban populations geographically, ethnically, and socioeconomically.   

The idea started when Dr. Victor Harris previously worked on a Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education grant in another state.  When he accepted a faculty position at the University of Florida in 2011, he thought it would be of value to provide a customized program for Floridian’s through University of Florida/IFAS Extension since Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the nation.

There are two FYCS graduate assistants working on the project.  Jonathan Anderson is helping to expanding scales that will be used in future Qualtrics surveys and Prami Sengupta is working on a publication that will establish a 2016 baseline of many of the factors we are measuring currently (e.g., Positive Bonds, Positive Interaction, Negative Interaction, Couples Consensus, etc.). 

Feedback from participants of SmartCouples has been very positive. "It was a very comfortable setting and engaging.  Made me and acknowledge things I need to work on within myself, made me value the importance of my relationship." said one participant. 

"I thoroughly enjoyed attending this program. The facilitator conducted herself very well and communicated with our group comfortably and efficiently. I feel that I have retained a lot of good information to help in future relationships both romantic and otherwise." said another participant.

Relationship Smarts PLUS 3.0 is an evidence based youth curricula/program from the Dibble Institute.  It is a program designed to help teens learn how to set goals and make wise choices about relationships, dating, partners and more.

Before You Tie the Knot is a researched-based premarital curricula/program from the University of Florida.  It is a program designed for couples who are striving to start their marriages on the right foot. 

ELEVATE is a researched-based couple and marriage enhancement curricula/program from the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMAN) through the University of Georgia. It is a program designed to enhance couple relationships and take their relationship to the next level. 

Smart Steps is a researched-based stepfamily curricula/program from the National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC), Auburn University.  It is a program designed to strengthen relationships between remarried and repartnered couples and their children, including noncustodial parents.  

The three face-to-face adult programs offered in each of the five counties are typically 2.5 hour long once a week for five weeks and include a light meal.  The youth program is typically ten 1 hour sessions at participating high schools.  Participants have the option to participate in federal and UF/IFAS online surveys to contribute to ongoing relationship education research and evaluation.  And, an additional assessment is offered to participants to assess whether other community resources are needed. 

Those who are interested in classes register on our www.SMARTcouples.org website under the Classes and Events page or through their local FCS Extension Agent.