This dimension covers the range of support services provided by maternity group home program staff to residents, in addition to basic housing and supervision. Homes range along this dimension from basic to comprehensive. The intensity of services provided may be correlated with program goals, staffing, and costs.
At one extreme of this dimension are maternity group homes in which program staff offer only basic services. Teens residing in these homes receive a safe place to live during and/or after pregnancy, which is a critical need for many. Staff at these maternity group homes usually also provide lessons on parenting and life skills. In addition, they assist residents in connecting with outside providers for other needed services. Staff of basic maternity group home programs may have developed strong relationships with outside service providers to make accessing these services easy for residents. In some cases, homes may have decided not to provide certain services themselves because they are readily available in the local community. Other homes that provide only basic services directly may consider providing safe housing to be their primary goal. Homes that provide only temporary, emergency, or short-term housing for teens are likely to fall into this category, since residents would not be around long enough to benefit substantially from more extensive services. Most homes in New Mexico's statewide network are examples near this end of the spectrum; they provide only basic services themselves, but program directors are responsible for linking residents to various services provided by community partner agencies outside the homes (SPAN 1999).
At the other extreme of this dimension are maternity group homes that directly provide a comprehensive array of support services. In addition to the basic services provided by almost all programs, these homes would provide medical and mental health care, education (high school or GED programs or both) and job training, on-site child care, transportation, outreach to fathers and families, and follow-up services for participants after they leave the maternity group home. Homes that offer comprehensive services may have broader goals than those that provide only basic services, they may be located in areas where other service providers are not readily available, or they might just be better funded and thus able to provide directly services that other homes consider important but must rely on outsiders to provide for their residents. Homes that provide more services directly may require higher staff-to-teen ratios and thus have higher costs per family served. The Florence Crittenton home in West Virginia is one example that would fall at the comprehensive end of the spectrum; it provides an array of services to their residents and has impressive facilities, including an alternative school, day care center, and health clinic on-site (Sylvester 1995).
In addition to providing a useful tool with which to organize our understanding of maternity group homes, this preliminary classification system will assist us in developing protocols for telephone conversations with maternity group home sites. However, we may further refine this classification framework as our design study progresses. Screening telephone calls may provide more information on these and other characteristics of maternity group homes, and visits to select sites may inform the feasibility of evaluating different types of homes. In addition, our calls to sites will help provide a better sense of where each home falls along the continuum for each of the three classification elements.