Teenage Parent Demonstration, 1987-1998

Project Overview

The Teenage Parent Demonstration and Evaluation project was designed to test the effectiveness of a mandatory program for first-time teen parents entering the welfare rolls. The program included requirements to attend school or an alternative education program or job training or seek employment depending on the circumstances and age of the teen parent. Demonstration programs were operated from late 1987 through mid-1991 in three sites: Camden and Newark, New Jersey; and Chicago, Illinois. Each teen was assigned to a case manager who worked with the teen and family to develop self-sufficiency plans, guided the teen to needed services, and monitored her progress in required activities. Childcare, transportation, and other services were paid for or provided by the sites as needed. The sites met such needs to eliminate major barriers to participation in required activities. In addition, teens were required to participate in initial workshops to enhance their personal skills, to help them cope with parental responsibilities, and to prepare them for later education, training, and employment-related activities.

Policy impact questions included: (1) Was self-sufficiency increased according to various measures of educational attainment, employment, earnings and income? (2) Was participation in educational, training or employment activities and use of program services increased, according to such measures as attendance at, and completion of, assigned training or employment activities? (3) Were reductions achieved in rates of teen pregnancy and child bearing? Questions related to policy impact on family structure and stability, child well being, and health were explored.

The evaluation utilized a random assignment experiment in each of the three demonstration sites. Data on implementation, operations and impacts were obtained from field observations, administrative records, and client surveys.

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