The Implementation of Maternity Group Home Programs: Serving Pregnant and Parenting Teens in a Residential Setting. How Are Maternity Group Home Resodemts Housed?


Probably the most fundamental need filled by maternity group homes is that of housing. Even if the other benefits of living in a maternity group home were found to have no longer-term effects on residents, the homes still succeed in the goal of providing a temporary place for pregnant and parenting teens to live. Maternity group home programs use a variety of different types of facilities and typically teach residents to take responsibility for maintaining the space, so that they will be better prepared to live on their own some day.

Types of Facilities.  Maternity group home programs use two basic housing structures:

  • Congregate Homes. In congregate living facilities, all residents share common areas, such as living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens. Each resident of a congregate home may have her own bedroom (typically shared with her child), or she may share this space with another resident family. Some congregate homes have only basic common areas — a living room and an eat-in kitchen — while others have additional common spaces, such as playrooms, meeting rooms, computer rooms, laundry rooms, and yards available to residents. In addition, congregate facilities typically include some office space for maternity group home staff.
  • Clustered Apartments. In clustered apartment facilities, residents live in a number of separate apartments, each with its own living area, kitchen, and one or more bedrooms. In some apartment facilities, each resident family has its own apartment; in others, each apartment is shared by two or three families. Staff offices typically are housed in a separate apartment unit in the building.

The majority of the maternity homes visited are congregate facilities, although many networks include some facilities in which residents live in individual or shared apartments. Table III.1 shows the number of congregate and apartment-model facilities in the sites in this study. Approximately 80 percent of the 43 homes in these sites are congregate facilities.

Table III.1. Numberof Congregate and Apartment Facilities in Each Program
Program(State) Number of Homes
Congregate Apartment Total
GCAPP Second Chance Homes (Georgia) 8 0 8
St. Andre Group Homes (Maine) 4 0 4
Teen Living Program (Massachusetts) 15 5 20
Teen Parent Supportive Housing Services Collaborative (Michigan) 2 1 3
Teen Parent Program (New Mexico) 3 a 2 5
Inwood House Maternity Residence (New York) 1 0 1
Friends of Youth Transitional Living Program (Washington) 1 1 2
Total 34 9 43
GCAPP = Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention.

a One home in New Mexico is primarily congregate but also includes three apartment units. In this table, we categorized this home as a congregate facility.


The Community Action Agency maternity group home is housed in a large, recently renovated, former single-family home in a residential neighborhood in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The main floor of the house is devoted to space for residents. There are five bedrooms-one for each resident family-and three bathrooms (one of which has been modified to be accessible to people with disabilities). Residents share a large living room, dining room, spacious kitchen, and laundry room. There is also a courtyard. The house has a smaller upstairs area, which is allocated for the home's staff. This space includes a few office cubicles, a full bath, and two sofa beds.

Because of the expense associated with new construction, few programs are fortunate enough to have facilities built specifically to serve as a maternity group home. Programs take advantage of a wide variety of types of preexisting facilities, including former single-family homes, apartment buildings, motels, rectories, convents, and nursing homes. By far the most common settings, especially for congregate homes, are buildings that were originally large single-family houses. Almost half of the homes visited for this study are in buildings that were once single-family homes. Apartment-model programs are sometimes in such settings as well but more often are housed in former apartment buildings. These programs typically fill an entire (small) apartment building; but in some cases, they have only a few units in a larger building. For example, one program in Massachusetts shares an apartment building with other residential programs operated by the same parent organization. One program in New Mexico is housed in eight units of a much larger regular apartment complex.

Apartment-model homes tend to be somewhat larger than congregate homes, but most maternity group home programs are quite small. Half of the homes we visited have the capacity to serve no more than six resident families each, and only two of the homes we visited can serve as many as a dozen at one time. In addition, since this study focused on larger maternity group home programs, it is possible that the homes in these programs tend to have greater capacity than those in programs not visited.

Different populations of pregnant and parenting teens may benefit from different types of facilities. Congregate homes, which tend to be smaller and more communal, may be the best arrangement for less mature teens who need more attention and supervision. Larger, apartment-model homes may be more appropriate for older, more independent residents. Some programs deliberately vary their structures (or take advantage of the natural variation in the available facilities) to provide different types of arrangements for different types of residents or to help young mothers gradually make the transition to independence. For example, the network in Massachusetts includes both congregate homes and some apartment model homes, and network staff place residents in the type of home that will best meet their needs.

Resident Responsibilities. Regardless of the type of facility, maternity group home programs take steps to encourage residents to take responsibility for the facilities in which they live. Such policies serve dual purposes: (1) to keep the facilities clean and well maintained, and (2) to help prepare residents to one day live independently in their own homes. Programs use two methods to accomplish this, requiring residents to pay rent and to assist in the upkeep of the facilities by performing household chores.

Most maternity group homes require residents to make some financial contributions to the home (discussed in Chapter II). One goal of such policies is to give residents experience in paying monthly rent, which they will have to do when they leave the home and live independently. Staff also mentioned that charging residents rent during their stay in the maternity home allows staff to serve as a credit reference when residents apply for their own apartment.

Residents of maternity group homes are also required to perform standard household chores, typically including cooking and keeping their own rooms or apartments clean. Practicing such tasks helps prepare teens for living on their own, when they will be responsible for keeping their own homes and feeding themselves and their children on their own. For example, staff at one St. Andre home in Maine said that having residents take turns planning meals and going grocery shopping with staff — in addition to cooking — provide valuable opportunities for staff to teach hands-on lessons about nutrition and price comparisons. Although programs often have staff to maintain the facility and may assist the residents in preparing healthy meals, putting some of the responsibility for such everyday tasks on residents also saves money on housekeeping and kitchen staff.

Specific chore assignments vary, depending on the type of facility. Residents of congregate-model maternity group homes are typically responsible for cleaning their own bedrooms individually but share responsibility for preparing group meals (sometimes including shopping for food) and cleaning common areas. Shared duties typically rotate among the residents in most congregate homes — for example, a particular resident might be responsible for cooking one week, washing dishes the next week, tidying the living room the following week, and taking out the garbage the next week. Teens living in clustered apartments usually are responsible for preparing meals for themselves and their children and are required to keep their own apartments clean. Residents of both types of homes — congregate homes and clustered apartments — must typically do their own laundry, and homes often have schedules for the use of laundry facilities. Some programs have set specific times when assigned chores must be completed.

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