Maternity Group Homes Classification and Literature Review. What are Maternity Group Homes


Maternity group homes have a long history. Some of the maternity group homes in operation todayВ  such as Inwood House in New York, St. Ann's in Maryland, and the Florence Crittenton agenciesВ  trace their origins to the 1800s (Reich 1996; Reich and Kelly 2000; and Child Welfare League of America 2004). A number of rescue homes were opened in the United States in the late 19th century to aid unwed mothers who, at the time, faced considerable social stigma in addition to economic hardship. These homes provided a safe place for young fallen women to live during and after pregnancy, as well as services intended to rehabilitate them and teach them to care for their children. The need for such homes was greatly reduced, however, in 1935, when Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was enacted to provide federal support for single mothers, whether widowed or unwed, and their children (Cooper 2003). Over the decades, gradual social changes made single motherhood more socially acceptable, thus further reducing the need for maternity group homes. However, teen mothers still face considerable challenges in caring for themselves and their children.

Recent welfare reform rules that require minor parents live in approved housing as a condition of TANF receipt have contributed to a resurgence of interest in maternity group homes specifically targeted to serve pregnant and parenting teenagers who, for one reason or another, cannot live in their parents' homes. In 2001, there were more than 132 maternity group homes operating in 29 states around the country (Social Policy Action Network 2001). These homes are similar in that they all provide housing and other support services for pregnant or parenting teenagers. Individual homes can differ greatly, however, due to differing program goals and operational contexts. In this chapter, we rely on data from the 2001 Social Policy Action Network (SPAN) survey and other sources in the literature to describe some of the characteristics across which maternity group homes vary, focusing on three questions:

  1. What services do maternity group homes provide, and how are these services delivered?
  2. Whom do maternity group homes serve?
  3. How are maternity group homes funded and managed?

We then attempt to classify maternity group homes across a few major dimensions.

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