Ryan Carlson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Counselor Education, Department of Education Studies, College of Education, was awarded a five-year, $636,019 grant in collaboration with the University of Central Florida and US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. The grant project is entitled USC Family Strengthening Evaluation of UCF’s Project HARMONY. The project goal is to determine if relationship education is effective at helping strengthen current relationships, improve parenting, and decreasing individual distress for economically disadvantaged participants. The College of Education’s Office of Program Evaluation will evaluate the project as UCF is implementing the intervention.
Through this grant, the UofSC Family Strengthening Evaluation Team (FSET) has been created, and will conduct a rigorous evaluation of the relationship education intervention implemented at UCF. The project start date was October 2015 and will continue through September 2020. A nine month planning phase is currently being conducted, which is used to finalize the design, including outcome measures, and working with software developers to establish a customized software that allows for real-time random assignment and secure data collection from all participants.
Dr. Carlson and USC FSET is responsible for overseeing the random assignment and analysis of 6,000 community participants to a treatment or waitlist control group, and analyze the effectiveness of relationship education for low-income couples and individuals. UofSC’s contribution to the grant is to evaluate the project as UCF is implementing the intervention. Therefore, all participants will be recruited from the Orlando, FL area. Participants will be recruited in collaboration with social service agencies, such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs, local community county health organizations, and other grassroots organizations such as churches.
Dr. Carlson is a licensed mental health counselor with training in couple’s counseling and relationship education approaches. He has experience working in private practice and community mental health. He has studied and is published in the areas of outcomes for low-income couples and individuals who received relationship education, efficacious recruitment and retention of low-income participants into research, and intimate partner violence typologies and implications for counseling.