Mariana Falconier, associate professor and clinical director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Family Services at the Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church, has won a grant totaling $7.2 million for a five-year project to promote healthy relationships and economic stability among low-income couples.

The award is the largest to date to the university’s Department of Human Development from the federal Office of Family Assistance, Administration for Children and Families, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Titled “Together: A Couples’ Model to Enhance Relationships and Economic Stability,” the project will include 360 couples in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. The aim is to improve couples’ well-being, parenting, financial management, and employment.

“This project acknowledges that human well-being can often best be addressed through integrated, 360-degree solutions and is a good example of how our faculty bring their research into the communities that we are part of,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Falconier, who joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2008 in the National Capital Region, said the project “seeks to promote healthy couple relationships and economic stability by integrating relationship and financial education, employment and career support services, and referrals for other family needs such as housing or medical services. The project involves partnerships with various community agencies. Each couple will have a case manager to evaluate needs and help set specific goals.”

Falconier is teaming with University of Maryland’s Jinhee Kim, who will serve as associate project director. The project expects to serve 360 couples and recruit another 360 couples to conduct a randomized control trial to assess the effectiveness of the interventions.

This is a continuation of Falconier’s research on interventions to help couples cope with marital and economic stress, initially funded internally through a Jerome Niles Research Fellowship in 2010-11, which later received a grant from the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation. 

Falconier received support from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment to develop her proposal to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Falconier holds a doctoral degree and a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. She is the leading editor of "Couples Coping With Stress: A Cross-Cultural Perspective" (in press by Routledge).  Her research has been published in peer-reviewed periodicals including Clinical Psychology Review, Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, and the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy.  Her research interests include stress and coping in couples, economic and immigration stress, and domestic violence in Latino couples.



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