Relationship & Family Formation

The families into which children are born, and in which they spend their early childhoods, have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Changes in marriage and remarriage, divorce, cohabitation, and nonmarital childbearing patterns have led to greater diversity in how families are formed, and to more frequent transitions into and out of different family types. Child Trends conducts quantitative and qualitative analyses to describe patterns and trends in relationship and family formation and the implications of our findings for child and parent well-being. We have led national efforts to conceptualize, define, and measure healthy relationships. We also conduct research and evaluation to understand and improve the design, implementation, and effectiveness of human services programs that aim to support healthy, stable family relationships for families with diverse racial/ethnic identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and strengths and needs that shape parent and children’s family relationships. Through this work, Child Trends emphasizes the need for researchers, program developers, and policymakers to strengthen family relationships and improve mothers’ and fathers’ positive involvement with children across all types of family structures to improve child well-being.