Case Management for Teenage Parents: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Introduction


From 1986 through 1990, the States of New Jersey and Illinois conducted the Demonstration of Innovative Approaches to Reduce Long Term AFDC Dependency Among Teenage Parents -- also known, and referred to here, as the Teenage Parent Demonstration.  With grants from the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), awarded in September 1986, New Jersey and Illinois implemented Teenage Parent Demonstration programs in the fall of 1987, after an initial planning and pilot phase.  The demonstration programs were known as Teen Progress in Camden and Newark, New Jersey, and as Project Advance in the south side of Chicago, Illinois.  The general features of these programs are reflected in some of the major provisions concerning adolescent parents in the Family Support Act of 1988 (FSA) and the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) Training program it created.

In these three demonstration sites, all teenage parents of a single child who began receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) for the first time for themselves and their child were required to attend a baseline intake session, and were then randomly assigned, for evaluation purposes, to program or control status.  Over the period of the demonstration, those assigned to program status were required to participate in appropriate education, training, or employment as long as they were receiving AFDC.  Failure to participate could result, after prescribed warnings, in a sanction -- reduction in the AFDC grant -- until the teenage parent complied with program requirements.  The programs provided case management support, child care assistance, allowances for transportation and other training-related expenses, and a variety of workshops designed to develop the teenagers' personal life skills, motivation, and ability to pursue continued education, training, or employment.  Those assigned to control status could not receive the special services of Teen Progress or Project Advance and were not required to participate in education, training or employment, but were free to pursue other sources of training and education on their own.  A total of 5,297 eligible teenage parents were referred to the demonstration and completed intake during the research intake period (1,218 in Camden, 1,190 in Newark, and 2,889 in Chicago) [During the time period for this report, more completed for later reports.].(1) 

The experiences of these two States in operating the Teenage Parent Demonstration provide valuable guidance for other jurisdictions as they develop approaches to serving teenage parents under the provisions of the Family Support Act of 1988.  The demonstration was designed and implemented, of course, before passage of the Family Support Act and its requirement for all states to implement the JOBS program, and there are some differences in service definitions, but the role of case management in the Teenage Parent Demonstration is fully consistent with the terms of the Family Support Act.  In the demonstration, case management was an essential and integral part of the program design; case managers were intended not only to help teenage parents participate in education, training, and employment, but to serve as a direct source of support, counseling and motivation to them.  Although case management is defined as an optional service in the JOBS program, and States have considerable latitude in how they define and implement it, case management is consistent with the broad intent of the JOBS program design -- to help participants obtain and make effective use of available services.  The Teenage Parent Demonstration therefore provides useful lessons about case management as an element of States' JOBS programs.

This report examines the role of case management in the Teenage Parent Demonstration; it is the third in a series on various aspects of the design and operations of programs for teenage parents on AFDC.(2)  The opening section of the report summarizes lessons and conclusions about case management, drawing primarily on observation of program operations and the views of demonstration staff.  The next two sections describe the definition of case management in the demonstration, the specific services provided by case management staff, and the organization of staff.  Finally, three broad questions are addressed based on the demonstration experience:

  1. How can case managers promote teenagers' productive participation in education, training, employment, and other program activities?
  2. What factors contribute to the effectiveness of case management?
  3. How can program managers maximize the effectiveness of case managers?