The Implementation of Maternity Group Home Programs: Serving Pregnant and Parenting Teens in a Residential Setting. Teen Parent Supportive Housing Services Collaborative (Michigan)

04/22/2005

Basic Program Structure. The Family Independence Agency (FIA) of Wayne County, the agency responsible for serving TANF families, oversees a small county-based network the capacity to serve pregnant and parenting teens in the Detroit area. The network currently includes three maternity group homes, an agency that provides mental health and outreach services to support the homes, and a parenting program (operated by an organization that also runs a non-network maternity home not directly supported by FIA). The agency that currently provides mental health and outreach services operated a home until recently when funding cuts from United Way necessitated the closing of this home. The three network homes offer similar services and serve similar populations; however, the network's management is fairly decentralized. FIA leads monthly meetings of the five network members and is the fiduciary agent for the network's primary funding source; however, decisions about the daily operations of the residential facilities are left to the homes themselves.

Funding Sources and Levels. The network receives Supportive Housing Program funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of about $1 million annually. Each of the homes receives a HUD grant of between $135,000 and $400,000 per year, and these grants make up a substantial fraction of the operating budget of these homes. While the federal grant is the primary source of funding for all the homes in the network, none relies exclusively on this funding source. Homes also receive funding from HUD Emergency Shelter Grants, the United Way, and private donations. Each home also requires residents to contribute a quarter of their monthly income as rent. The average monthly cost per teen family served ranges substantially across the three homes, from as low as $1,200 to as much as $4,200.1

Eligibility Rules and Referral Sources. The three network homes serve broadly similar populations. All homes serve both pregnant and parenting teens, and each home can accommodate a small number of parents with two children. None of the homes accept teens younger than 15 or older than 18, but some individual homes have narrower age ranges. Residents must be from Wayne County, and all homes require parental consent for minors. The homes also require residents to be on TANF, and all admissions decisions are made with the approval of FIA caseworkers. FIA is the primary source of referrals for all three homes, although homes also get referrals from a number of other sources including emergency hotlines, churches, teachers, friends, and family members. The homes are not licensed to care for teens in state custody.

Setting and Structure of the Homes. All network homes are located in Detroit. Two of the homes are congregate living facilities, in which all residents share living, dining, and kitchen areas, and bathrooms. In one of the congregate homes, residents share bedrooms, with two teen mothers and their children sharing a room. Both of the congregate facilities are converted, large single-family homes in residential areas. The third facility is an old apartment building in which each teen parent has her own one-bedroom apartment. This facility targets slightly older teens than the other network homes do and is designed for young mothers who are mature enough to care for themselves and their children in their own apartment.

Staffing Patterns. All three homes have staff on site 24 hours a day, although there is considerable variation in staffing patterns and resident-to-staff ratios across the homes. The two congregate homes have 24 hour awake staff (and, in fact, one of these homes has two awake staff members on site at all times.) The apartment model facility has fewer staff than the congregate homes, despite serving more residents, and the home does not always have awake staff. Each home has at least four full-time staff and a number of part-time staff. Homes typically have a program manager, a social worker and/or a case manager, and several “specialists” who provide general supervision for residents. In addition to staff who work directly for the homes, some staff from partner organizations come in to the homes to provide services, such as teaching parenting classes.

Core Program 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, and the topics include classes related to parenting and life-skills (including such topics as budgeting, nutrition, and anger management). The residents typically are required to attend the classes, and at least one home offers them incentives to attend. Group and individual counseling are also commonly provided. Some homes provide child care and transportation to enable residents to attend school or work, while others help residents access external providers for these supports. Some homes also take the residents on outings in the Detroit area, as well as offer annual trips to other parts of the country. In addition to services provided to residents, each home offers some continued assistance to former residents after they leave the home.

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