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Study shows that DU’s MotherWise program strengthens relationships 

Nearly 500 local women a year spend six weeks in a MotherWise program created in 2015 by the University of Denver and Denver Health.

Using an evidence-based curriculum, MotherWise provides skills and resources every mother needs and support for the whole family.

And it works. An arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked Mathematica Inc., with Public Strategies, to follow the program’s women for one year and compare them with nonparticipants. 

They found plenty of positive indicators:

• MotherWise helped women improve their relationship skills and attitudes toward relationships.

• Program participants were less likely to report an unintended pregnancy.

• Those still involved with their baby’s father saw those relationships improve.

“These findings are significant because we are making a difference on some very real indicators of maternal and child health and poverty,” says DU psychology professor Galena Rhoades, a creator of MotherWise. “If programs like MotherWise can make this kind of difference in the lives of families, they have the promise to be able to have longer term, positive effects for both the mother and her baby.”

MotherWise gets more than $5 million in grants from the HHS’s Office of Family Assistance and its Family and Youth Services Bureau. With recent new funds, MotherWise has expanded its program to teen moms, too.

“Having a baby is challenging, especially if you are young and don’t have all the resources and support you need,” Rhoades says. “And we want to make sure teen parents have all they need to make bringing up their new baby a success.”

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