Because teenage childbearing often has negative consequences for the parents, their children, and society, policymakers have been searching for effective strategies not only for reducing teenage pregnancies but also for improving the life chances of teenagers who have children. In 1986, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched the Teenage Parent Demonstration (TPD) to test the effectiveness of innovative programs for improving the economic self-sufficiency of teenage parents dependent on welfare. The public welfare agencies in Illinois and New Jersey were awarded grants to design and implement the TPD programs. The Illinois program, Project Advance, operated in the south side of Chicago, and the New Jersey program, Teen Progress, operated in Newark and Camden. The programs began serving young mothers in mid-1987 and continued operations through mid-1991.
Anticipating the mandatory participation requirements of the 1988 Family Support Act, the demonstration programs required teenage mothers on welfare for the first time with their child to participate in education, job training, or employment-related activities. To help them meet this requirement, the programs offered support services -- mainly case management, child care assistance, and transportation assistance. Unlike previous programs, the TPD programs required mothers to participate in activities regardless of the age of their child, to receive the maximum welfare grant.