Many parent and family education programs lack a clearly articulated program theory that is solidly founded in the social science literature and used to guide rigorous evaluation. This article describes the program theory for Parents Forever, a divorce education program developed by the Minnesota Extension to serve divorcing parents. The Parents Forever program theory is theoretically based and empirically-informed. The program theory is based on three significant frameworks, which serve as the theoretical foundation for the program: human ecosystems, life course development, and family resilience. These theories are explored and discussed. Three primary change mechanisms relevant for divorcing families serve as the empirical foundation of the program. Parent-child and coparent relationships are commonly addressed in divorce education programs; however, the inclusion of parental self-care as the third mechanism to promote family resilience is a unique contribution of Parents Forever. Relevant concepts derived from the empirical literature related to these three mediators are presented. Connections between the curricular content and program theory (i.e., theoretical framework and three change mechanisms) are made explicit, and program theory is used to demonstrate the unique contribution that Parents Forever makes to the field of divorce education.
Hardman, A. M., Becher, E. H., McCann, E., Powell, S. E., Garbow, J., Rajasekar, N., & Marczak, M. S. (2019). Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Divorce Education: Connecting Program Theory and Curricular Content. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 7(3), 14. https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/jhse/vol7/iss3/14
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