Project History

 Stepfamilies are becoming increasingly common in Utah and throughout the United States. There are, however, few educational programs that help couples prepare for remarriage and/or enhance their relationships in the context of stepfamily-living.  In an effort to assist these families, Dr. Brian Higginbotham, an Extension Specialist at Utah State University, wrote a proposal to fund remarriage and stepfamily education classes throughout Utah. He was assisted by Dr. Scot Allgood and Dr. Linda Skogrand. In October 2006, the U.S. Office of Family Assistance funded the 5-year proposal (Grant #: 90FE0129). In 2007 the Office of Head Start funded another 5-year proposal (Grant #: 90YD0227) offering additional classes on an annual basis. In 2012, the Office of Family Assistance awarded another 3-year grant to continue Stepfamily Education (Grant # 90FM0001).  Each year, in collaboration with established community agencies around the state, approximately 30 classes are offered at no cost to married and non-married couples with stepchildren. 

Participants attend 6 sessions of the Smart Steps: For Adults and Children in Stepfamilies curriculum in either English or Spanish. Adults and children meet separately for the first hour-and-a-half and then combine for a family activity. Participants are taught relational skills such as communication, conflict management, and commitment.

Over 3,000 adults and their children have attended classes so far.  The adults who attend the classes experience statistically significant increases in knowledge and skills related to healthy relationships. Participants are also experiencing statistically significant increases in relationship stability and satisfaction. Overall, participants have reported that remarriage and stepfamily education classes are very helpful.