Costs of Mandatory Education and Training Programs for Teenage Parents on Welfare: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Demonstration Sites and Participant Samples

07/12/1993

The Teenage Parent Demonstration, although managed by State welfare agencies, was operated in three selected local areas.  In Camden, New Jersey, the demonstration program was operated by the Camden County Board of Social Services, the agency which operates the AFDC, Food Stamp, Medicaid, and other assistance programs under the supervision of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Economic Assistance (DEA).  In Newark, New Jersey, the demonstration program was operated through a special local office staffed directly by the State Division of Economic Assistance, although some aspects of program operations involved coordination with staff of the local Essex County Board of Social Services.  In Illinois, where assistance programs are operated directly by the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), the demonstration program was run directly by IDPA staff.  In all three sites, special demonstration offices were established apart from the offices where income maintenance functions are performed.  The demonstration programs served teenage parents on AFDC who lived in specified areas.  In Camden and Newark, Teen Progress targeted teenage parents from the entire cities.  In Chicago, Project Advance served teenage parents from the AFDC rolls of four local welfare offices in the south side of Chicago -- Auburn Park, Southeast, Roseland, and South Suburban. 

By all available measures, the areas served by the demonstration were severely depressed, and ravaged by many of the economic and social ills associated with teenage pregnancy and chronic poverty.  At the 1980 census almost a third of all families in Camden and Newark had incomes below the federally-defined poverty level, and about 40 percent of these families were headed by females with children under the age of six (Table I.1).  Almost a third of the population at the New Jersey sites was receiving some form of public assistance.  Although comparable census data for the specific area of Chicago served by Project Advance are not readily accessible, city-wide statistics and the relative poverty of the demonstration area suggest comparable economic indicators.  In all three areas, dropping out of school is a common problem.  In Camden and Newark, about 30 percent of each high school class drops out before completing high school.  In all three cities, state Department of Education officials report that in any single recent year, about 10-13 percent of the entire student body in grades 9-12 drops out of school.(4) 

TABLE I.1
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DEMONSTRATION SITES

  Camden, NJ Newark, NJ Chicago, ILa

Total Population

84,910 392,248 3,005,072

Race/Ethnicity

      % White, non-Hispanic 27.4 22.1 43.2
      % Black, non-Hispanic 52.4 57.3 39.5
      % Hispanic 19.2 18.6 14.0
      % Other 1.0 2.0 3.2

Enrollment in School by Age Groups

      % 7-13 year-olds enrolled 98.3 97.8 98.1
      % 14-15 year-olds enrolled 98.1 97.3 96.7
      % 16-17 year-olds enrolled 84.4 82.7 84.6
      % 18-19 year-olds enrolled 47.2 42.8 48.8

Median Family Income

      All families $10,606 $11,989 $18,776
      Female heads with children under age six $4,357 $4,307 $4,547

Percent of Families with Female Heads and Children Under Age Six

14.8 12.6 6.8

Percent of Families Below Poverty Level

32.3 29.9 16.8

Percent of Families Below Poverty Level with Female Heads and Related Children Under Age Six

40.6 38.5 34.5

Percent of Families Receiving SSI, AFDC, or GA

32.6 30.2 17.0

Percent of Adult Females with Children Under Age Six Who are in the Labor Force

37.5 41.3 43.7

Civilian Unemployment Rate (%)

17.9 13.4 9.8

Unemployment Rate of Female Heads of Households (%)

24.1 18.7 12.3

SOURCE:  U.S. Census, (1980, Tables 16, 25, 29, 57, 117, 119, 120, 124, and 125).

a The Chicago program serves only communities on the South side of the city -- areas that tend to have higher than average poverty rates and percentages of residents from minority race/ethnic groups.

 

 


 

The characteristics of the participant group (those assigned to the enhanced-services program) in the three demonstration sites, give some indication of the challenges they face to become self-sufficient (Table I.2).  Participants were young; across the three sites their average age at the time of intake was 18.4 years, and about 30 percent were 17 or younger.  The age at which the sample members became parents was even lower, however, since almost one quarter of them came to the demonstration when their child was past infancy; only about 50 percent of the participants lived with a parent at the time they entered the demonstration programs.  Their basic skills were quite poor; approximately 60 percent scored at or below the 8th grade level on standardized reading and math tests.

TABLE I.2
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ENHANCED SERVICE GROUP AT INTAKE
(Percents)

  Site All Sites
Camden Newark Chicago
Age
      Less than 17 years old
      17 years old
      18 years old
      18 or older
26.2
22.7
27.5
23.7
11.9
17.5
30.2
40.4
9.7
11.2
39.1
40.0
14.1
15.3
34.4
36.2
Race/Ethnicity
      Black, non-Hispanic
      Hispanic
      White, non-Hispanic/Other
56.7
37.2
6.1
74.3
22.7
3.0
84.5
5.4
10.0
75.7
16.7
7.6
Age of Child
      Unborn
      1-6 months
      7-12 months
      1 year or older
5.2
66.0
8.9
20.0
2.6
38.9
23.9
34.5
18.3
48.5
12.8
20.5
11.8
50.6
14.2
23.4

Attending School at Intake

44.8 36.7 46.8 44.2

Completed High School/GED

20.0 27.7 40.9 33.1
Reading Skills
      Below 7th grade
      7th - 8th grade
      Above 8th grade
56.6
7.7
35.7
51.1
13.2
35.7
41.4
13.5
45.1
46.9
12.1
41.0
Math Skills
      Below 7th grade
      7th - 8th grade
      Above 8th grade
43.4
17.1
39.5
41.2
18.6
40.2
40.8
22.1
37.1
41.5
20.2
38.3
Number in Sample 630 572 1,439 2,641

Source: Program Intake Forms.