Barriers to Self-Sufficiency and Avenues to Success Among Teenage Mothers. Teenage Parent Demonstration


The Teenage Parent Demonstration was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), and the Office of Family Assistance (OFA).  It tested the feasibility and effects of imposing obligations on teenage-parent AFDC recipients to engage in activities designed to enhance their self-sufficiency as a condition of their continued eligibility for welfare, while offering assistance to help them fulfill these obligations.  The cornerstone of the demonstration programs was case management services.  Case managers helped teenagers develop and fulfill self-sufficiency plans and monitored their compliance.  The plans focused on education, training, and employment-related services designed to improve teenagers' long-run prospects for self-sufficiency.  They also offered support services to facilitate adherence to the plans -- notably, child care and transportation assistance.  The demonstration was timely, providing considerable guidance to states implementing programs in response to the adolescent parent provisions of the Family Support Act of 1988.

The public welfare agencies in the states of Illinois and New Jersey received grants in 1986 to design and implement the demonstration programs.  The Illinois program (Project Advance) operated in the south side of Chicago, and the New Jersey program (Teen Progress) operated in the cities of Newark and Camden.  The programs began serving clients in mid-1987 and continued operations through mid-1991.

The overall demonstration evaluation involved five components:

  1. An analysis of the effects of the program on those who participated, involving the random assignment of eligible mothers in the three sites to participant (enhanced-services) or nonparticipant (regular AFDC services) groups;
  2. A process and implementation evaluation to document the nature of the demonstration and provide guidelines for its replication;
  3. A study of child care supply and demand in the demonstration sites;
  4. A study of the impacts of the program on child care needs and use; and,
  5. This in-depth study of the experiences, motivations, and personal circumstances of program participants.