Building Self-Sufficiency Among Welfare-Dependent Teenage Parents: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Program Participation


Through the efforts of committed staff, the programs succeeded in achieving participation rates that compare very favorably with those achieved in other work-oriented welfare programs.  Rates are also quite high given that these were nonselective, comprehensive coverage programs that made commitments to work with all new teenage parents on welfare.  Nearly 90 percent of the eligible teenagers completed program intake.

Of the teenage mothers who completed intake and were assigned to the enhanced-services group, 92 percent (82 percent of the full sample) participated in subsequent program activities.  More than 80 percent completed an extensive assessment and developed a self-sufficiency plan, 72 percent completed one or more program workshops, and 70 percent engaged in at least one of three major activities -- school, job training, or employment.  Many engaged in more than one of these activities; at some time during the demonstration, 47 percent attended school, 29 percent had some type of job training, and 33 percent were employed.

Participation in program activities was highest among those who had higher basic skills, were enrolled in school at intake, did not have any health problems, were black, and/or lived with mothers not employed outside the home.  Participation was lowest among school dropouts who would have been mandatory participants under the JOBS program (30 to 35 percent in any month, compared with 40 to 50 percent for high school graduates and those in school at the time of program enrollment).  Spells of inactivity were common among participants, with 80 percent having at least one spell of inactivity and more than 25 percent having multiple spells.