The Implementation of Maternity Group Home Programs: Serving Pregnant and Parenting Teens in a Residential Setting. Programs Included in This Report

04/22/2005

We visited maternity group home programs in seven states (Table I.1).   Each of these programs is described briefly below.  Additional detail on each program can be found in Appendix A.

Georgia — GCAPP Second Chance Homes.  The Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (GCAPP) operates a network of eight maternity group homes, located throughout the state, serving 44 teenage mothers and their babies.  The program began serving teens in 2001 and is funded primarily by the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR).  DHR provides both funding to GCAPP — which uses some of this funding to support network-level staff and passes the remaining funds along to the homes — and payments to homes directly for providing shelter and services to children in state custody.

Residents must be between the ages of 13 and 20.  Although both pregnant and parenting teens are eligible to live in the homes, in practice most teens have had their babies before they enter the program.  The program serves primarily teens in state custody.  About two thirds of program residents are referred by local child welfare agencies, and another 10 percent by juvenile justice agencies. 

The eight homes all offer a similar set of services, including weekly parenting and life-skills classes, regular individual therapy sessions, and weekly case management sessions.  Homes also offer tutoring services, as well as transportation to medical appointments, educational events, and group outings.  All homes involve congregate living, in which the each teen family has its own bedroom but shares living, dining, and kitchen areas.  All provide a very high level of supervision for their residents, including staff on site 24 hours a day and low resident-to-staff ratios — these staffing patterns are required by state law for facilities that house minors in state custody, as these homes do.

Maine — St. Andre Home, Inc.  St. Andre Home, Inc. operates four maternity group homes in Maine, which can serve a total of 16 pregnant and parenting young women and their children.  The organization was founded in 1940 by a local order of nuns.  Three of the homes opened in the mid-1970s; the fourth opened in 1998.  Funding for the four homes is primarily through Medicaid and a state contract. 

To reside in a St. Andre group home, young women must be Medicaid eligible and either be pregnant or parenting a child younger than age three.  All homes serve young mothers ages 15 to 24.  One of the four homes can serve women up to the age of 30 and can accommodate mothers with two children.  Most residents were referred to the program by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and living in the home is often a condition either of retaining custody of their children or being reunited with their children in state custody. 

All of the homes follow a congregate model and have staff on site 24 hours a day.  The homes all have low resident-to-staff ratios, each employing six full-time and one part-time staff member, and the program also contracts with a number of consultants.  In addition to housing and supervision, each home provides a number of individual and group services to its residents.  Homes convene group sessions — including parenting and life-skills classes and house meetings — three or four times a week, and residents must meet individually with the home’s social worker each week.  Some residents also meet regularly with psychiatrists who come to the home to provide therapy.  Homes also occasionally provide child care and transportation for their residents. 

Massachusetts — Teen Living Program.  The Massachusetts Teen Living Program includes 20 maternity group homes for pregnant and parenting teens throughout the state.  The homes can house 167 teens and their children, making the network the largest maternity group home program in the country.  The network began in 1995 as part of state welfare reform.  It is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Social Services(DSS), which oversees child welfare issues for the state, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), which manages the state’s TANF program.  The network receives most of its funding from DTA and the remainder from DSS. 

All homes require that residents be:  (1) between the ages of 13 and 20 years old, (2) Massachusetts residents, and (3) pregnant or parenting.  Each bed within the network is designated as either “DTA” or “DSS,” which indicates the referral source and eligibility requirements for that bed.  All DTA-bed residents must receive TANF, while all DSS-bed residents must have an open DSS case for their children or themselves (although there is considerable overlap between these two groups).

Most of the homes in the network are congregate facilities, but five programs follow an apartment model, in which two or three teens and their children share an apartment.6  Apartment-model programs are designed for older teens who are better able to take care of themselves and their children.  Both types of homes have staff on site 24 hours a day, but congregate homes must have awake staff at all times, while some apartment-model homes have live-in house parents instead.

Homes typically have three or four group sessions a week, including life-skills/parenting groups and house meetings.  Residents also meet weekly with their case manager, and some provide counseling to residents.  Residents’ children are screened by Early Intervention Services and are often assigned to Early Head Start.  Homes will also assist residents in finding child care and many will provide transportation in some situations.  Besides services to current residents, the homes offer follow-up assistance to former residents.  The programs also provide outreach and case management services to the fathers of current residents’ children.

Michigan — Teen Parent Supportive Housing Services Collaborative.  The Family Independence Agency (FIA) of Wayne County oversees a small county-based network of providers serving pregnant and parenting teens in the Detroit area.  The network includes three maternity group homes, with total capacity to serve 34 pregnant and parenting teens and their children.  In addition, the network includes a parenting program and an agency that provides mental health and outreach services to support the maternity group homes.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Supportive Housing Program is the primary source of funding for all the homes in the network, although none relies exclusively on this source.

All homes serve both pregnant and parenting teens, and each home can accommodate at least a certain number of parents with two children.  None of the homes accepts teens younger than 15 or older than 18, and some individual homes have narrower age ranges.  Residents must be from Wayne County, and all homes require parental consent for minors.  FIA is the primary source of referrals for all three homes, and all admissions decisions are made with the approval of FIA caseworkers.

Two of the homes are congregate living facilities, and in one of these homes teens even share bedrooms.  The third facility, which targets slightly older teens than the other homes, is an old apartment building in which each teen parent has her own one-bedroom apartment.  All three homes have staff on site 24 hours a day, and staff at the two congregate homes must be awake at all times.  Each home has at least four full-time staff and a number of part-time staff, plus some partner staff who come in to the homes to provide specific services.

Besides housing and supervision, all the homes provide case management and a number of scheduled classes and individual meetings.  The homes typically offer classes for the residents most weekday evenings, covering topics related to parenting and life skills.  Group and individual counseling are also commonly provided.  Some homes provide child care and transportation to enable residents to attend school or work, and some homes take residents on group outings.  In addition to services provided to residents, each home also offers some continued assistance to former residents after they leave the home.

New Mexico — Teen Parent Program.  The New Mexico Teen Parent Program, which is managed by the state’s Children, Youth, and Family Department, funds five group homes and three non-residential programs for pregnant and parenting teens throughout the state.  The homes can serve a total of 38 pregnant or parenting young women and their children.  The program began operating in 1990 and is the oldest statewide network of maternity group homes in the country.  The network provides funding toward the operating expenses at all five homes, but some of the homes have substantial funding from other sources, including HUD, the child welfare system, and Catholic Charities. 

By design, program operations are very decentralized, and individual homes have considerable flexibility in determining the specific services they offer and population they serve.  All of the homes serve pregnant or parenting young women under age 21, but some have additional eligibility requirements, such as meeting the HUD definition of homelessness. 

The setting and physical structures of the five homes vary substantially.  Two are in converted single-family homes, and one is in a converted motel in a remote location.  Another home is in a set of three attached two-bedroom apartments in a small town, and another is in a set of eight clustered one- and two-bedroom apartment units in a large privately owned apartment complex in an urban area. 

Most of the homes provide 24-hour supervision.  The number of full-time staff at each home ranges from two to five; however, those with fewer full-time staff typically employ more part-time staff.  In addition to paid staff, most homes rely on volunteers from partner organizations to provide some services to home residents.    All homes offer case management services and regular parenting and life-skills classes to residents, typically meeting once or twice a week.  Some provide other direct services such as tutoring, respite child care, and transportation.

New York — Inwood House Maternity Residence.  Inwood House is one of three New York City maternity homes for pregnant teens in the foster care system.  It was founded in 1830 and has been serving pregnant teens from the city’s foster care system since the 1930s.  In addition to its maternity residence, which has capacity to serve 36, Inwood House operates several other programs to serve pregnant and parenting teens, as well as programs designed to reduce teen pregnancy.7  The Administration for Children Services (ACS), the city’s child welfare agency, contracts with Inwood House to provide maternity home services and provides most of the home’s funding. 

The program serves pregnant young women under the age of 21 until the birth of their child.  After their babies are born, state law requires that residents and their babies be placed elsewhere, typically with a foster family or in a group home for teen parents.  In addition, since ACS regulations prohibit babies from residing in the maternity home, residents must not have custody of any other children.  All residents must in the foster care system, and all referrals to the program come from ACS.

Inwood House operates out of three floors in a six-story former apartment building in a quiet, residential neighborhood in New York City.  Residents all have their own bedrooms and share living rooms and dining areas.  ACS regulations require 24-hour-awake staff, as well as a low resident-to-staff ratio.  For these reasons, the program has a large staff of social workers, paraprofessionals, administrators, and support staff.  The home offers a wide array of support services, including six mandatory weekly classes — on independent living skills, child birth, infant care, health, substance abuse prevention, and other special topics — and weekly meetings with their case managers.  Inwood House offers an on-site school for teens who are not able to find an appropriate educational program in the community.  The home also offers case management services to the fathers of the residents’ babies, who are also invited to attend the childbirth and other classes Inwood House offers for its residents.

Washington — Friends of Youth Transitional Living Program.  Friends of Youth operates a small Transitional Living Program network including two maternity group homes and three residential programs for other youth populations in the Seattle area.8  The two maternity homes serve 20 pregnant and parenting young women and their children.   Friends of Youth has operated other residential programs for youth since 1951 and opened their first maternity home exclusively for pregnant and parenting teens in 1991.  The network’s management is fairly centralized — one Friends of Youth staff member is the program manager for both maternity homes.  The majority of funding for both maternity homes is provided by HUD. 

The eligibility requirements are the same at both Friends of Youth 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 age 4 when they enter the home.  The homes must verify and document that applicants are homeless according to HUD’s definition. 

The two homes offer a similar set of services; however, one is a congregate living facility while the other is an apartment model facility.  Each of the homes has a resident manager who lives on site, so someone is available to residents day and night.  Each of the homes also has its own full-time case manager, and the two homes share a program manager, assistant program manager, and a pool of relief staff.  The homes offer group sessions — such as house meetings, parenting classes, and cooking/nutrition classes — approximately weekly, and residents at both homes are required to meet weekly with their case manager.  One home also contracts with external providers for mental health services.  One home provides child care for its residents, while the other has only limited funding for occasional child care.  Both homes provide bus passes to their residents.

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