We begin our examination of large maternity group home programs by considering how these programs are typically managed. The seven study programs follow two distinct models of management: (1) “networked programs” consisting of several homes operated by different social service providers and linked through a common funding source; and (2) “independent programs” consisting of a single home or multiple homes operated by one social service provider. Four of the study programs are networked and three are independent. We define and discuss these two program models in more detail below.
Networked Programs. Networked maternity group home programs are those in which one organization manages the overall program and contracts with several social service organizations to operate the homes and provide services to residents. These networked programs are usually overseen by the state or county government agency that is responsible for child welfare issues. For example, the Massachusetts Teen Living Program and the New Mexico Teen Parent Program are overseen by the state child welfare agencies in these states (Table II.1). Similarly, the Michigan Teen Parent Supportive Housing Services Collaborative is sponsored by the Wayne County Family Independence Agency, which is the county agency in charge of both welfare and child welfare programs. In contrast, the Georgia Second Chance Home program is operated by the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (GCAPP), a private, nonprofit advocacy organization that works to reduce teenage pregnancy in the state. However, GCAPP runs the program under contract and in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Human Resources, the state agency responsible for both welfare and child welfare programs.
The agencies that manage these networked maternity group home programs serve two main functions: (1) providing general oversight and management, and (2) offering ongoing technical assistance and support. The oversight and management functions of the network agencies primarily involve providing funding to the homes and monitoring them to make sure they are complying with program rules and guidelines. In addition, in the Massachusetts Teen Living Program, this function includes managing the program’s referral process.
In Massachusetts, referrals for most program beds are handled centrally by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS), the state agency that oversees the Teen Living Program. DSS employs a full-time program coordinator, who decides which homes to place teens in when they enter the program. In the other three networked programs, individual homes generally handle their own referrals.1
Network agencies typically provide ongoing technical assistance and support to the homes in their network. For example, they sponsor meetings several times a year with the program managers from each of the homes in their network. These meetings typically involve in-service training, as well as discussions and presentations on important issues facing the homes, such as changes in state regulations or funding.
In addition, the networked programs offer ongoing support to the homes beyond these regular meetings, with the Massachusetts and Georgia programs providing the most assistance of this type. Both programs employ a full-time program coordinator, who provides ongoing technical assistance and support to the homes in the network. In both programs, the coordinators are in frequent contact with the staff at the homes, typically talking with them at least weekly and often speaking with them even more frequently. Coordinators are also available to help staff at the homes troubleshoot when problems arise, such as staffing issues or problems with resident behavior. In addition, the Georgia network agency provides the homes with both monthly and annual reports describing the characteristics of the population they serve and the kinds and amounts of services they provide.2 Staff in the Georgia maternity group homes indicated that the information provided in these reports was very helpful in understanding the population they work with and in improving the services they deliver.
The Michigan and New Mexico network agencies also provide some ongoing support for their homes, but on a much more limited basis. In Michigan and New Mexico, the network-level coordinators (both of whom devote only part of their time to the program) have ongoing contact with staff at the homes; however, this contact is considerably less frequent than in the Massachusetts and Georgia programs. In the Michigan and New Mexico programs, home staff typically have contact with staff from the network agencies substantially less often than once a week.3
Providing a high level of ongoing support to the homes in the network requires considerable staff time on the part of the network agency. The network agencies in both Georgia and Massachusetts have a full-time program coordinator whose primary function is to provide such support. In addition, both agencies devote considerable time to their maternity group home programs from other staff members, who typically handle administrative issues. This allows the program coordinators to devote the bulk of their time to ongoing assistance to the homes.
In contrast, the network agencies in Michigan and New Mexico do not devote any staff members exclusively to the maternity group home program. The network-level program coordinators for these two programs both have other duties and devote only about half their time to the group home programs. Therefore, they have less time available to provide ongoing support to the homes. In addition, there are generally no other staff at their agencies who devote substantial time to the program. Therefore, the time these staff members have to devote to the program must be divided between administrative and support functions.
Independent Programs. Independent maternity group home programs are those in which services are provided by one social service organization that operates a single home or multiple homes. Nationwide, most maternity group home programs are of this type. However, since this study focuses on larger programs and since networked programs are typically larger than independent ones, we observed more networked than independent programs (Table II.1).
The three independent programs included in the study are organized and managed in fairly different ways. The Maine program is organized the most like a network. St. Andre Home, Inc., a private, nonprofit organization founded by a local order of nuns, operates four group homes in central and southern Maine. The program has a director and financial officer, both of whom work out of the central office. These staff members handle all financial issues and provide general oversight of the homes. Each of the four homes has its own director who oversees and manages the day-to-day functioning of the home. The St. Andre program director oversees the home directors and works closely with them in dealing with the various issues that arise in operating the homes. She is in contact with each home director several times a week. During these contacts she discusses staffing issues and problems with residents and thus plays a role similar to that of the network coordinators in the Massachusetts and Georgia programs: offering ongoing support and assistance to the staff in the homes.
The Transitional Living Program operated by Friends of Youth consists of five residential programs, two of which are maternity group homes. These five homes in the Seattle, Washington area are all directed by one staff member who works out of the central Friends of Youth office. Since the number of staff at each home is small (typically two full-time staff, compared with six in each of the Maine homes), there are no home directors. Because the distinction between central office and home staff is less clear in the Friends of Youth program, there is less of a parallel between the function of the program’s director and that of the director of the various networked programs we observed.
The Inwood House program in New York City is the least like the networked programs, since it operates only one large facility.4 In recent years, the organization has been serving 20 to 25 pregnant teens in its one maternity residence in New York. Inwood House employs a director of congregate care, who oversees the daily operations of the home. Financial and business issues for the home are handled by the organization’s assistant executive director, who works out of the same facility.