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Building Strong Families (BSF) Project Data Collection, 2005-2008, United States (ICPSR 29781) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


The Building Strong Families (BSF) project is comprised of a four part dataset. Part 1, the BSF Eligibility and Baseline Survey Data file; Part 2, the BSF 15-Month Follow-up Survey Data file; Part 3, the program participation data file; Part 4, the BSF 15-month follow-up analysis file. This study examined the effectiveness of programs designed to improve child well-being and strengthen the relationships of low-income couples through relationship skills education. It surveyed couples 15 months after having applied and having been accepted into a Building Stronger Families (BSF) program at one of eight locations offering services to unwed couples expecting, or having recently had a baby. The first major focus of the study was family structure. Question topics included information on recently born children, as well as the parents and their relationship status. If the parents were still together, respondents were asked whether they were currently married or planned to marry in the future. If no longer together, reasons for the relationship ending were explored. The second major focus queried respondents about parental involvement with their child or children. They were then asked to rate their perceived quality as parents, their communication skills, and cooperation between parental responsibilities. Respondents were also questioned regarding the amount of time spent by each parent with their child, including playing games, feeding, and changing diapers. The third major focus asked respondents about their relationships. They were asked to give their opinions of marriage and their level of satisfaction in their current relationship. Respondents were also asked to list the frequency, if applicable, of various occurrences within their relationship. Subjects included communication, enjoyment of each others' company, partner reliability, infidelity, and domestic violence. The fourth major focus queried respondents on their well-being. They were asked whether they attended religious services, how they felt in the past month about being a parent, and their feelings and behavior during the past week. Respondents were further asked if these feelings or problems made it difficult for them to work or communicate with other people. They were also asked about consumption of alcoholic beverages in the past year, and if alcohol use created problems with employment. The fifth major focus questioned respondents about the utilization of various services. They were asked if they participated in any programs such as classes, workshops, or group sessions in order to help their relationship. They were also asked if they had met with someone, such as a social worker or a priest, to help them work on their relationship. Respondents were asked if they participated in programs to improve parenting skills, learn job skills, increase education, or find employment. They were also asked if they participated in any programs to help with anger management or domestic violence. The sixth major focus dealt with paternity and child support. Respondents were asked if they voluntarily signed a birth certificate or document identifying them as the mother or father. They were asked if they were legally required to provide child support, the amount of that support, and if they gave money in addition to child support to help with the cost of raising the child or children. The seventh major focus dealt with family self-sufficiency. Respondents were asked if they or their partner performed any work for pay during the past year, the past month, and their earnings during those times. They were then asked if they received any additional sources of income such as welfare, disability insurance, and unemployment. Respondents were then asked if they and their partner combined some, all, or none of their money. They were asked how the responsibility for bill payment was divided between partners and if, at any point, they had difficulty paying bills. Respondents were also asked if they owned a car, rented or owned a home, and whether they were covered by health insurance. Lastly they were asked about their health and who they could count on in an emergency. The final major focus explored parental well-being. Respondents were asked if they were currently in prison or jail, had ever been arrested, had served a jail or prison sentence in the past and, if so, how long they were incarcerated. Additional information collected included country of origin of the respondent and the respondent's parents, who they spent most of their life with prior to age 18, whether they lived with both of their biological parents at the same time, and if their parents were married. Respondents were also asked about their previous sexual experience. Demographic data includes race, education level, age, income, and marital status.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    To protect respondent privacy, these data are restricted from general dissemination. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR Restricted Data Contract Portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  BSF Baseline and Eligibility Survey Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS2:  BSF 15-Month Follow-up Survey Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS3:  BSF MIS Program Participation Data
No downloadable data files available.
DS4:  BSF 15-Month Follow-up Analysis Data
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


Hershey, Alan, Barbara Devaney, Robert G. Wood, and Sheena McConnell. Building Strong Families (BSF) Project Data Collection, 2005-2008, United States. ICPSR29781-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-06-30. doi:10.3886/ICPSR29781.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. Administration for Children and Families (233-02-0056)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   bills, child abuse, child support, counseling services, criminal records, domestic violence, emotional states, employment, families, family structure, health insurance, income, marital relations, marital satisfaction, marriage, parent child relationship, parenting skills, parents, personal finances, sexual abuse, sexual behavior, substance abuse

Smallest Geographic Unit:   city

Geographic Coverage:   Atlanta, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Florida, Georgia, Houston, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, San Angelo, Texas, United States

Time Period:  

  • 2005-07--2008-03

Date of Collection:  

  • 2005-07--2008-03

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Couples enrolled in eight local BSF programs who met the following criteria: (1) agreed to participate in the program, (2) were romantically involved during the initial data collection, (3) were expecting a child or had a child under three months old, (4) were unmarried at time of their child's conception and (5) were 18 years or older.

Data Types:   survey data


Weight:   Weights are indicated for couples in the "cpl_finalwt", for fathers in the "dad_finalwt", and mothers in the "mom_finalwt" variables.

Mode of Data Collection:   telephone interview

Response Rates:   Couples: 87 percent, Fathers: 72 percent, Mothers: 83 percent.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:  


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