A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Annual Report 1998-99. Welfare Reform


Welfare reform included an incentive for states to reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock childbearing and encourage the development of new approaches to pregnancy prevention. Awards for the first year of the Bonus to Reward Decrease in Illegitimacy Ratio were announced in September 1999. Alabama, the District of Columbia, California, Massachusetts and Michigan all received awards of $20 million each. The decrease in the ratio of out-of-wedlock to total births ranged from 5.7% in California to 1.5% in Massachusetts. This provision is targeted toward all women, not just teenage mothers; however, in measuring state decreases in out-of-wedlock births, this measure would also include births among unmarried teens. Although the bonus is part of the TANF grant, the funds can be used to support a wide variety of programs extending beyond the TANF population.

The Administration for Children and Families has developed a guide for states entitled Helping Families Achieve Self-Sufficiency. This guide offers suggestions on how best to use TANF funds for services to children and families (including teen pregnancy prevention efforts). The guide can be found at http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/ofa/funds2.htm .

In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is supporting an initiative on teen parents and welfare reform that generates knowledge on the effects of welfare reform on parenting teens, and measures the effects of preventive interventions on teen parents and their children. The four objectives in support of this goal are: (1) prevention or reduction of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; (2) improvement in academic performance; (3) reduction of subsequent pregnancies; and (4) improvement in life skills and general well-being. SAMHSA has awarded ten cooperative agreements which are in the process of collecting baseline data for the evaluation of the initiative.