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

Published: Jun 3, 2014

Principal Investigator(s):
Alan Hershey, Mathematica Policy Research; Barbara Devaney, Mathematica Policy Research; Robert G. Wood, Mathematica Policy Research; Sheena McConnell, Mathematica Policy Research

Version V3

The Building Strong Families (BSF) project 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 and 36 months after having applied to and 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. Major topics included family structure, parental involvement with children, relationships, personal and parental well-being, utilization of services such as workshops to help their relationship and parenting skills, paternity and child support, and family self-sufficiency. Respondents were asked for information on recently born children and relationship status, how much time they spent with their children, their level of satisfaction with their current relationship, substance use, if they had attended relationship and parental counseling, whether they were legally required to provide child support, employment, and family background. Additional information was asked about domestic violence and child abuse, legal trouble, past sexual history, and child development. The 36-month data collection effort also included direct assessments of parenting and child development. The quality of the parenting relationship was assessed for both mothers and fathers and was based on a semi-structured play activity, "the two-bag task." This interaction was videotaped and later coded by trained assessors on multiple dimensions of parenting. During assessments with mothers, the focal child's language development was also assessed using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Demographic data includes race, education level, age, income, and marital status. The data collection is comprised of seven parts. 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; Part 5: the BSF 36-Month Follow-up Survey Data file; Part 6: the mother-child in-home assessment; and Part 7: the BSF 36-Month Follow-up analysis file.

Hershey, Alan, Devaney, Barbara, Wood, Robert G., and McConnell, Sheena. Building Strong Families (BSF) Project Data Collection, 2005-2008, United States. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2014-06-03.

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


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.

2005-07 -- 2008-03

2005-07 -- 2008-03

Alpha Missing Values: Please note that the original data sets provided by the data producer were supplied in SAS format and made use of alpha missing data codes for numeric variables. ICPSR is providing these original files in addition to the ICPSR-produced files. These files have been packaged together in one zipped archive ( Additionally, recoded values are provided in the "Processing Notes" section of the ICPSR codebook.

The BSF sample intake collected information from study couples during the period of July 2005 to March 2008. A follow-up survey was conducted at approximately 15 months after study enrollment and a follow-up survey and a direct assessment of parenting and child development were conducted 36 months after study enrollment.

Longitudinal: Panel

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.


observational data

survey data

coded video observation

cognitive assessment test

telephone interview

The 15-month follow-up survey: 83 percent of mothers, 72 percent of fathers, and 87 percent of all couples (at least one parent); The 36-month follow-up survey: 80 percent of mothers, 69 percent of fathers, and 85 percent of all couples (at least one parent).



2011-06-30 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.

2014-04-25 Parts 5 through 7 (36 Month Follow-up data) have been added to the collection.

2014-06-03 Adding updated datasets and documentation for restricted files.

The data are not weighted. Weight variables in the data collection include: Parts 2 and 4: CPL_FINALWT, MOM_FINALWT, and DAD_FINALWT. Parts 5 and 7: ANY_FINALWT36, DAD_FINALWT36, and MOM_FINALWT36.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

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