Greater Portland Healthy Marriage and Relationship Project

Community-Centered Healthy Marriage Program
Rose Fuller M.T.S, Tary Tobin Ph.D., Iliana Fontal, Charlie Goessler



The community-centered approach of The Greater Portland Healthy
Marriage and Relationship (GP HMR) Project provides six of the eight
allowable Healthy Marriage and Relationship activities in four of
Oregon’s most populated counties in the greater metropolitan
Portland area (51% of Oregon’s population). The collaborative
approach between Northwest Family Services (NWFS) as the lead
agency partnering with Multnomah County Health Department
(MCHD) and Catholic Charities of Oregon (CC) is providing
comprehensive services. The project places a special emphasis on
serving low-income Latinos by establishing a network of services in
low-income housing, community settings, and faith-based

Our goal was to see 95% of participants improving in at least one
area. We have consistently seen more than 97% improvement in
one or more areas. The average improvement among all the
reporting periods has been over 99%.

By providing evidence-based programs in community-based settings
with local organizations, will the participants see an increase in
relationship satisfaction and improvement in employment?
Investing in healthy relationship education makes economic sense.
Each year, divorces in the US cost states and the federal government
approximately $112 billion. The children who are affected by these
failed unions are more prone to live in poverty and face multiple risk
factors. This is not to suggest people should stay in high-risk
marriages; however, the benefits for children who are raised in a
stable, two-parent family are well established. Oregon has the 4th
highest divorce rate in the nation, at 12.8%, compared to the
national average of 10.7%.

The overall program model is based
on the three-tiered model of
primary, secondary, and tertiary
levels of prevention from public
health that has been successfully
used in educational and community
The GP HMR Project six allowable
activities (AA) are AA1-AA6.

Our community partner relationships have led
successes. Providing couple’s workshops for first
responders developed into an ongoing commitment.
Working with numerous organizations in the Date Night
Challenge made it possible for 20,000 people to
make a commitment to invest in their most important

relationships by going on 4 dates in 4 weeks.

Success Story
Jessica and Gabino came to
Northwest Family Services on the
verge of divorce and severe
dysfunction within their
relationship. Both had entered into
their marriage as victims of domestic
violence and were desperate to
navigate the challenges they now
faced. Gabino was beaten up by his
former wife and her oldest son.
Jessica was abused by her ex-husband. Each spouse was concerned
about old violence patterns re-appearing with each other. In
addition, the couple was experiencing listening challenges, trouble
articulating their feelings and concerns, and was becoming an ever
more isolated pair. Jessica and Gabino enrolled in an eight-hour
NWFS healthy relationship class and gained an array of skills that
helped their relationship. Today, they are both happily married and
even have their second baby now on the way! Congrats Jessica and

Transportation and support services have been a challenge for some
of our participants.
Through a partnership with
our local metropolitan transit
service, Tri-Met, NWFS has
been able to secure $25,000 in
transit passes and tickets that
enables our participants to
attend classes, apply for jobs,
and maintain employment
until they receive their first

Greater Portland Healthy Marriage and Relationship Project
Community-Centered Healthy Marriage Program
Rose Fuller M.T.S, Tary Tobin Ph.D., Iliana Fontal, Charlie Goessler



Participants on allowable activity 3 received relationship education
and one of the following: parenting skills, financial management, or
job and career advancement. CareerFit is our Job and Career
Advancement Program

There are many contributing factors to child well-being, family
stability, and improving poverty. In Oregon, 1 in 4 children lives in
poverty which is associated with a wide range of negative outcomes.
In 2013, 14, 223 divorces were filed in Oregon affecting 28,446
adults and 11,996 children (no step-children included). Failed
marriages cost Oregonians millions of dollars every year. For
instance, divorces in Clackamas County alone cost the state and
federal government approximately $42,660,000 dollars in 2005.
Each divorce costs society (Oregon) about $25,000 to $30,000 or
$355 million - $426 million because of the increase in costs of
supporting people with housing, food stamps, bankruptcies,
problems with youth, and other related expenses. These costs
ultimately impact families and children and contribute to poverty.
Overall, families that are married have greater family stability that
helps to ensure a higher quality of life.

AA3 participants show an
increase of over 92% on
their communication skills,
conflict resolution skills,
abuse prevention skills and attitude towards marriage skills.
On average, 99% of the AA3 participants who answered the survey,
improved on at least 1 Performance Measure

By providing a range of services, families are served with skills and
support to improve their success and economic stability. Over the
past 2 1/2 years this project has served 9,796 high school students
and 6,355 adults with healthy relationship and parenting classes,
and 1,222 adults completed job readiness and placement services.
A major focus has been to work with the Latino community, low
income families, and those individuals who have barriers to
Success Story
Like many who
come into our
offices, Matt, a
52year old man,
was searching
for a chance to
progress in his life. He came into our office desperate for a job, an
opportunity to change his life. He had been homeless, looking for a
job, and in desperate need of help. With a history of drug and
alcohol abuse dating back to when he was just 13 years old and
several DUIs, he wished for a fresh start away from the dangerous
lifestyle that had dominated his life. Thanks to the recovery program
he has been part of, he has been clean and sober for the last 54
months, and now thanks to CareerFit, he has a job. The CareerFit
Program at NWFS has greatly helped shape his new life. Matt
explained, “I first came into NWFS on February 2013 and was placed
that same year in August”. With Oregon’s unemployment rate up to
6.9%, he feels lucky to have found the perfect job at a local grocery
store where he can put a smile to everything he does. “I am so
thankful to have stepped into an office filled with opportunity. I
have now regained my life back because of CareerFit and now I can
say I have a job! Thanks to organizations like NWFS, people seeking a
new beginning can say it is never the end to follow your goals.” Matt

From July 2013 to July 2014
116 participants have been

place in Jobs with an
average salary of
Through the combined effort of three agencies and hundreds
of community partners, we are leveraging resources and
seeing tangible results among the people we serve.

Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant: 90FM0002.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United
States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.