Image source: Virginia Tech

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 whopping sum of $7.2 million, as grants, to serve couples belonging to low-income groups.

Her five-year project titled ‘Together: A Couples’ Model to Enhance Relationships and Economic Stability,’ is going to help in promoting economic stability and the healthy relationships amongst couples belonging to the low-income section of the society. Mariana’s project is aimed at improving the well-being of the couples along with their financial situations and to deal with issues relating to their employment.

This is, by far, the largest award 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.

Falconier obtained her doctoral as well as master’s degree from the University of Maryland. Her researches have been published in various leading periodicals such as the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Review, AnxietyStress, & Coping, and the Clinical Psychology.

Falconier joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2008 and has been an important figure in the faculty ever since. She says that her 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 will involve 360 couples in Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland. Elizabeth Spiller, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, believes that well-being of the humans can be addressed best through integrated, 360-degree solutions. And this project goes on to show how the faculty members are actively participating in the improving the condition of the community as a whole, through their research.

Various community agencies are going to be part of the project and each of the 360 couples will be provided with a case manager to evaluate their needs and help them in setting specific goals. Falconier has worked earlier on a similar research to help couples cope with marital and economic stress, which was funded by the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation. The current project is a continuation of the same.

Jinhee Kim of the University of Maryland will also be part of the project and will serve as the associate project director. The project also aims at recruiting another 360 couples for conducting randomized control trial to access how effective these interventions have been.

Falconier remains thankful for the support she received from the Institute for Society, Culture and Environment for pushing her proposal to get approval. Hopefully, this good deed won’t go unnoticed and will serve as an example for other Universities to come forward and work for a good cause.

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