The Implementation of Maternity Group Home Programs: Serving Pregnant and Parenting Teens in a Residential Setting. Friends of Youth Transitional Living Program (Washington)


Basic Program Structure. Friends of Youth (FOY) operates the Transitional Living Program, which includes two maternity group homes and three residential programs for other youth populations in the Seattle area.3 The two maternity homes serve 20 pregnant and parenting young women and their children. FOY has operated other residential programs for youth since 1951 and opened their first maternity home exclusively for pregnant and parenting young women in 1991. The program's management is fairly centralized — one FOY staff member is the program manager for both maternity homes. The two homes offer a similar set of services and serve fairly similar populations; however, one home (Harmony House) is a congregate living facility while the other (Arbor House) is an apartment-model facility.

Funding Sources and Levels. The combined annual funding for the two maternity homes is about $452,000. HUD provides over $300,000 of this funding — around $200,000 to Harmony House and over $100,000 to Arbor House. The homes receive smaller amounts of funding from the state, county, and city governments; the United Way; and private donors. In addition, residents at both homes are required to contribute about a third of their incomes to the program. The two homes receive roughly similar levels of overall funding, despite their different capacities (Arbor House serves 14, while Harmony House serves 6). Thus, the average monthly cost per resident family served differs substantially, from about $1,300 at Arbor House to $3,200 at Harmony House.

Eligibility Rules and Referral Sources. The eligibility requirements are the same at both FOY maternity homes. Residents must be pregnant or parenting young women between the ages of 18 and 21 at time of entry into the home. They can have only one child, and their children must be no older than four when they enter the home. The homes must verify and document that applicants are homeless according to HUD's definition. The homes also screen applicants for severe mental or physical health problems, current drug addiction or domestic violence, and any evidence that they might be dangerous. The homes take referrals from numerous sources, including public health workers, social service providers, shelters, foster care, FOY outreach staff, a community information hotline, and former residents.

Setting and Structure of the Homes. Both homes are located in the Seattle area: one in a residential neighborhood in a northern suburb and the other in a complex with other group living facilities on a former military base on the east side of Seattle. Arbor House is an apartment model facility, while Harmony House is a congregate home. Some of the families in Arbor House share two-bedroom units while others live in individual one-bedroom units. This facility also contains a number of common areas shared by all residents and an apartment for the live-in resident manager. All families at Harmony House share living, dining, and kitchen areas, but each family has its own bedroom.

Staffing Patterns. The basic staffing pattern at the two homes is similar, and they even share some staff. Each of the homes has a resident manager who lives on site, so someone is available to residents day and night, although neither home has 24-hour-awake staff. Each home also has its own full-time case manager. The two maternity homes share a program manager and an assistant program manager with the three other residential facilities that are part of the FOY Transitional Living Program. The homes also share a pool of relief staff who provide supervision on weekends, holidays, and when a resident manager is on vacation. Since the two homes have similar numbers of staff despite widely different capacities, Arbor House has a much higher resident-to-staff ratio than Harmony House.

Core Program Services. The two homes offer a fairly similar set of services. Arbor House provides twice-monthly house meetings led by group home staff, as well as a monthly parenting class and a monthly nutrition class, both of which are taught by outside staff from partner organizations. Harmony House has weekly group meetings. In addition to group activities, residents in both homes are required to meet weekly with their case manager to review progress toward meeting their individual goals. Harmony House also contracts with external providers for mental health services. Harmony House provides child care for its residents, while Arbor House home has only limited funding for occasional child care. Both homes provide bus passes to their residents.

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