Since the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Together Program launched in 2016, 466 couples have completed a free six-week course designed to help them with both their relationship and their finances.
The program, co-founded by Dr. Mariana Falconier, an associate professor of family science, and Dr. Jinhee Kim, professor and assistant director of the UMD Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Program, is designed to help couples improve communication and problem-solving skills and the ability to deal with stress.
“It gave me an opportunity to see how we could do research and provide a service that could make a difference in people’s lives,” Dr. Falconier said.
The workshops teach cash and credit management, savings and investment, budgeting and coping strategies to deal with conflicts and stress. Instructors — a couples therapist and a financial counselor — assign homework and free childcare is available during the weekly two-hour course.
The program also offers case managers that can connect couples to services in the community that they may need, like employment, mental health, medical, housing, food and legal services.
Dr. Falconier says that over 40 percent of participants in the Together Program make less than $2,000 a month, and nearly 60 percent make less than $3,000 a month. Over half of the participants have been African American.
Almost all — 99 percent — of the participants said the program helped them, while two-thirds said that the program helped them a lot.
Enrollment in the program continues to grow as it enters its fifth year of funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and is supported by other grants through Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on February 07