Designing Program Workshops for Teenage Parents: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Approaches to Linking Workshops with Other Program Components


Program staff at the three demonstration sites generally agreed on the purposes of workshops described earlier, but the three programs adopted quite different approaches to integrating workshops into the sequence of program activities.  To a large extent, these three approaches reflected models that staff were already familiar with from other programs at their sites, as well as administrative constraints.

Project Advance Used a Short Sequence of Introductory Workshops and a Variety of Topical Workshops Available to Ongoing Participants

Project Advance in Chicago required new participants to go through a three-day sequence of short workshops on six topics, totalling nine hours, all conducted by program case managers.  Later, in their individual dealings with participants, case managers could continue discussing these issues in more detail.  Program staff scheduled selected participants for ongoing workshops offered on a regular repeating cycle (e.g., Home Life Management workshop, Education Preparation, Job Club, Pre-Natal Care).  Staff selected participants based on their apparent need for help with issues covered by these workshops.  Invitations to other "special-event" workshops, conducted only occasionally or at long intervals, were sent to a large list of active clients; usually, a smaller, manageable size group attended.

The Camden Teen Progress Program Required an Intensive "Boot Camp" of Initial Workshops Before Other Program Activity

The Camden Teen Progress program required new participants to go through a sequence of initial workshops that spanned about four weeks and required about 78 hours of total attendance.  Outside consultants and staff from other service agencies were used extensively to run workshops.(6)  The workshop cycle was structured so that new participants had virtually a full-time schedule of workshop activity for four weeks, and then went on to other education, training, or job search activities.  The only Camden workshop for ongoing participants was a six-week program of Pre-Employment Preparation for participants getting ready to look for a job.  In some instances, these participants were judged at assessment or upon completion of a training course to be ready for the job market; in other instances, participants were scheduled for the pre-employment workshop if they resisted pursuing recommended education or training or if they failed to complete such activities or comply with their requirements.

The Newark Teen Progress Program Integrated Extensive Initial Workshops with Education and Training Activities

At the Newark Teen Progress program, an extensive sequence of required initial workshops involved over 100 hours of attendance at sessions dealing with family planning, HIV syndrome and drug abuse, nutrition, and life skills.  These initial workshops were viewed as one set of activities -- along with education or job training, as appropriate -- from which a full-time schedule of classes could be selected.  Since the workshops were of varying length -- one of them lasting six weeks -- and sometimes had conflicting schedules, even participants who adhered to their plan might attend initial workshops for several months.  Staff developed a schedule of classes for each new participant, consisting of a combination of workshops and appropriate other activities such as on-site remedial education classes or JTPA-funded job training (if the participant had adequate basic skills).  Thus, many participants followed, for as much as several months after their enrollment, a school-like schedule of classes at the program site, centered around an on-site remedial education class, and supplemented by the various initial workshops as they became available and could fit into the participants' schedules.(7)