Enrolling Teenage AFDC Parents in Mandatory Education and Training Programs: 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 (TPD).  With grants from the Office of Family Assistance (OFA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), awarded in September 1986, the States of New Jersey and Illinois implemented demonstration programs in the fall of 1987, after an initial planning and pilot operations phase.  The experiences of the two States in operating this demonstration program of education and training services for teenage parents provide valuable lessons for other jurisdictions as they develop initiatives to serve adolescent parents under the provisions of the Family Support Act of 1988.

This report is the first in a series focusing on various aspects of program design and operations.(1)  It describes the demonstration conducted by the two States, summarizes the characteristics of the teenage parent AFDC population in the New Jersey and Illinois demonstration sites, and describes how this population compares to teenage parents subject to the requirements of the federal Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) Training program created by the Family Support Act.  The report then presents lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration on the first steps in service delivery -- the process of identifying teenage AFDC recipients and promoting their enrollment and active participation in the initial stages of program activity.  Even in a mandatory program that requires participation, bringing teenage parents into the program can be a major operational challenge.