Building Self-Sufficiency Among Welfare-Dependent Teenage Parents: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Background and Key Elements


The demonstration began in 1986, before the passage of the Family Support Act and the implementation of the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program.  Nonetheless, the demonstration programs paralleled those envisioned by the architects of the current JOBS provisions and requirements for custodial teenage parents.  Pregnant and parenting teens in the demonstration sites who had one child and were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) were required to:

  • Stay in school, if they were attending school at the time of program enrollment
  • Return to high school or enter an adult education program, if they had already dropped out of school
  • Enroll in postsecondary education, if they had already completed high school or received their GED
  • Enroll in an appropriate skills training program as an alternative to or after completing schooling, or
  • Seek employment as alternative to or after completing education and/or training


The cornerstone of the program intervention was case management .  Case managers' responsibilities resembled those of current JOBS case managers in many states:  conducting individual assessments to determine supportive service needs; working with the young mothers to identify appropriate major activities -- school, job training, or employment; helping resolve impediments to participating in major activities or preparatory endeavors; and monitoring program participation.  The demonstration programs also provided a rich array of services to complement the case management -- workshops, child care assistance, transportation assistance, and counseling.

This report synthesizes the results of the first phase of a major, multipart evaluation of the Teenage Parent Demonstration.  This phase of the evaluation covered an average of 30 months of follow-up of the study sample and resulted in more than a dozen major reports covering a wide range of issues related to service needs, service use patterns, service delivery strategies, and program impacts.  In 1998, another report was published covering six to seven years of post-enrollment outcomes for both the young mothers and their children (See full report and shorter, readable synthesis and lessons learned report).

Plan of this Report

Here, we first describe the demonstration programs and profile the population of welfare-dependent teenage parents in the demonstration sites.  Then, we discuss early lessons about the program's effects on out-of-home activity rates and impacts on a wide range of economic and social outcomes.  Finally, we discuss program design and implementation lessons.