A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. A. Increase Opportunities Through Welfare Reform


The 1996 welfare law calls for additional efforts to prevent out-of-wedlock teenage pregnancies and to assure that communities engage in local efforts to prevent teenage pregnancy. These additional efforts are a critical component of our national strategy. As President Clinton has said, "Nobody should get pregnant or father a child who isn't prepared to raise the child, love the child, and take responsibility for the child's future." HHS will work with the states to provide guidance, to capture lessons learned from these welfare reform initiatives, to identify successful and innovative strategies, and to disseminate that information to all interested parties. [Additional information about the Welfare Reform law and how it is being implemented can be reviewed at web pages of the Administration for Children and Families on that topic.]

Personal Responsibility for Minor Parents. Under the new welfare law, unmarried minor parents will be required to stay in school and live at home, or in an adult-supervised setting, in order to receive assistance. The law also supports the creation of Second Chance Homes for teen parents and their children who might be at risk of abuse if they remained in their own homes. Second Chance Homes are expected to provide teen parents with the skills they need to become good role models and providers for their children, giving them guidance in parenting, child development, family budgeting, and proper health and nutrition, and in avoiding repeat pregnancies.

Abstinence Education. The new welfare law provides $50 million a year in new funding for state abstinence education activities, beginning in FY 1998. States will be able to target these funds to high-risk groups, such as teenage boys and girls most likely to have children out-of-wedlock. These new funds will be available through the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant.

Incentives for States. Under the new welfare law, HHS will award a bonus to as many as five states in the country that have the largest decrease in out-of-wedlock births while also having abortion rates lower than in 1995. The bonus will equal $20 million per state if five states qualify, and $25 million per state if fewer states qualify.

The Toughest Possible Child Support Enforcement. Through tougher child support enforcement, we will send the strongest possible message to young girls and boys that parenthood brings responsibilities and obligations and that they should not have children until they are ready to provide for them. The 1996 welfare law includes the child support enforcement measures President Clinton proposed in 1994 ­ the most sweeping crackdown on non-paying parents in history. The new measures include: streamlined efforts to name the father in every case; employer reporting of new hires to locate non-paying parents who move from job to job; uniform interstate child support laws; computerized state-wide collections to speed up payments; and tough new penalties, like drivers' license revocation, for parents who fail to pay.