Everything about maternity group homes from program goals and the population targeted to the services offered and the methods of delivering these services is determined by their operating organizations, sometimes with input from networks and funding organizations. Membership in a network of homes may open up avenues of funding and can have an impact on decisions made by managers of individual homes, since networks may have rules that all members must follow concerning what types of teens to accept and what services to provide. Funding organizations also can play a role in these decisions, particularly in homes where a single source provides the majority of program funds. Within any constraints placed by their networks and funders, the individual organizations that operate homes have considerable latitude to design their own programs. This section discusses networks, management, funding, and operating costs of maternity group homes.
Network Membership. While many maternity group homes are independent institutions, others are members of larger networks of homes. Networks can be a loosely affiliated set of homes with little more in common than geographical location and a shared funding stream, or they can follow a more prescriptive structure with similar goals, target populations, and services. Even within the most centralized maternity group home networks, there can be considerable variation in the characteristics of individual homes.(4) There are several statewide networks of maternity group homes, some homes are part of smaller local networks, and others are affiliated with the national Florence Crittenton organization. In fact, more than half of the 132 homes listed in the 2001 SPAN directory were part of some type of maternity group home network.(5)
- Local Networks: Local networks of group homes, most of which are quite small, may be run by county agencies or by non-profit organizations that operate a small number of homes within a local area. These small private networks may have begun as a single group home that expanded to additional facilities in order to increase capacity or to create separate facilities for different purposes or populations. For example, St. Andre Home, Inc. runs four maternity group homes in southern Maine, with the capacity to serve 44 families. A few other maternity group home sites, such as Bridgeway in Colorado and St. Elizabeth's Regional Maternity Center in Indiana, actually are groups of two or three separate homes that serve a handful of families. Perhaps the largest local network is a public one the Supportive Housing Program in Wayne County, Michigan has five homes, with capacity to serve 57 families.
- State Networks: A handful of states including Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin have created statewide networks of maternity group homes. The largest of these (the Teen Living Program network in Massachusetts) once included 21 facilities with capacity to serve 133 families, while the smallest (Rhode Island's New Opportunity Homes program) includes only five small homes with the capacity to serve 14 families. Nevada and Texas had funded state networks of maternity group homes, but these efforts recently ended due to budget cuts. Other states such as Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia have considered creating networks of maternity group homes (Sylvester and Reich 1999).
- National Networks: In addition to state and local networks, there is at least one national organization with affiliated maternity group homes across the country. This network is much older than most geographically based networks; the Florence Crittenton organization was founded in the late 19th century to aid young women of the street and has expanded and evolved through the years to provide a variety of services to teens, especially those who are pregnant or parenting (Child Welfare League of America 2004). Now part of the Child Welfare League of America, the Florence Crittenton Division currently includes 18 maternity group homes in 15 different states. In addition to maternity group home sites, the Florence Crittenton network includes 12 other local agencies that provide various services to pregnant and parenting adolescents but do not have residential facilities.
In addition to these networks, the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has established 10 Regional Training and Technical Assistance Providers which provide relevant information, assistance, and training to all of the FYSB grantees in their region, including some maternity group homes. To the extent that these regional providers deliver similar information, assistance, and advice to all maternity group homes they serve, the homes involved with a given regional provider may loosely be described as a network.(6)
Operation and Management. Individual homes are operated by separate organizations, even within all but the smallest networks of maternity group homes. Thus, there is considerable variation in the characteristics of individual homes within most networks, as discussed below. A study of Massachusetts' Teen Living Program network found that the specific emphasis of each home in the network depended on the mission and history of the individual organization running that home (Collins, Lane, and Stevens 2003). For example, there was disagreement among different Teen Living Program homes as to which of the network's several desired goals and outcomes should be primary.
Almost all maternity group homes are operated and managed by community-based organizations. Some may have religious affiliations, while others are secular. Some have broader functions than only operating maternity group homes. For example, Florence Crittenton agencies often provide a variety of support services to nonresident teens. Some organizations that run maternity group homes also provide adoption services. For example, in addition to operating a small network of maternity homes and an outreach program for nonresident teens, St. Andre Home, Inc. in Maine offers comprehensive adoption services to birth mothers and adoptive parents.
Sources of Funding. The operation of maternity group homes can be affected by which agencies or organizations provide their funding. Funding streams may come with instructions as to how the funds are to be used; for example, TANF funds may be used only to support families that meet TANF eligibility requirements. Thus, maternity group homes that receive all, or even the majority, of their funding from a single source may need to follow their funding program's guidelines as to what types of populations to serve or what types of services to provide.
Most maternity group homes rely on a variety of funding sources, however. Even maternity group homes that are part of a statewide network, and thus receive at least some state funding, typically report a number of other sources of funds. Sources of financial support for maternity group homes include:
- DHHS: DHHS provides financing for maternity group homes through a number of different funding streams. The Transitional Living Program, run by FYSB, provides grants for aiding homeless youth, including pregnant and parenting teens. Recognizing the importance of maternity group homes, Congress amended the federal Runaway and Homeless Youth Act legislation in 2003 to specifically include maternity group homes in the Transitional Living Program. DHHS set aside $10 million (about 10 percent of the total $98 million Runaway and Homeless Youth Program budget) specifically for maternity group homes in its 2003 budget, and estimates the same amount will be set aside for 2004. In addition, TANF, Social Services Block Grant, and foster care funds flow from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within DHHS, through the states, to maternity group homes. Some homes also rely on Medicaid funding from DHHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- Other federal agencies: Another major source of federal funding available to maternity group homes is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Through the Supportive Housing Program, HUD provides grants to help homeless populations, including pregnant and parenting teens, in achieving residential stability, increasing their skill levels and incomes, and obtaining greater self-determination. Other HUD funds are available to maternity group homes through Community Development Block Grants and Emergency Shelter Grants.
- State and local governments: Maternity group homes may receive funding from a variety of state, county, and city government agencies, including departments of housing, social services, welfare, and even corrections. Some states have special funding streams designated for homes in their statewide maternity group homes networks, as discussed above.
- Private donations: Many homes receive at least some funding through private donations. These contributions are given by foundations, organizations such as the United Way, faith-based organizations, and individual donors in the community.
- Resident contributions: Many maternity group homes also obtain some funds from their residents. For example, the mechanism by which Massachusetts Teen Living Program homes get TANF funding is by requiring residents of the homes to contribute a portion of their welfare check to partially defray the costs of living in the homes. Other maternity group homes charge residents a flat monthly rent amount or a sliding-scale fee. Maternity group home residents also often contribute their food stamps benefits to stock group kitchens.
Some homes rely on a single funding stream for all or most of their financial support. While foster care reimbursement is perhaps the most common funding source for these single-source homes, it is not the only source adequate to entirely sustain a maternity group home. The type of funding organization may have more impact on the operations of homes that rely on a single source, since such homes may be more closely bound by their funders' guidelines.
Operating Costs. The cost of operating maternity group homes varies depending on location, staffing, services provided, number of families served, and other factors. Among homes surveyed by SPAN in 2001, the annual cost per family ranged from $5,000 to $85,000, with a mean of about $36,000. These numbers are self-reported, were likely calculated in different ways, and may not accurately account for all program costs. Still, they indicate considerable variation in program costs. Some of this variation may be due to decisions made by the homes, such as the intensity of supervision and the amount of services provided directly by maternity group home staff two factors that are likely to be correlated with costs. Some programs may rely heavily on volunteer staff or receive considerable in-kind donations, which may not be factored into reported cost amounts. In addition, some homes may have partnered with Job Corps or other systems to achieve cost efficiencies. However, some factors outside of program control, such as the local housing market, will also affect their costs.