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Second Chance Homes: Brochure

Publication Date
Sep 30, 2000

Second Chance Homes

Logo of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


Second Chance Homes are adult-supervised, supportive group homes or apartment clusters for teen mothers and their children who cannot live at home because of abuse, neglect or other extenuating circumstances. Second Chance Homes can also offer supports to help young families become self-sufficient and reduce the risk of repeat pregnancies. They provide a home where teen mothers can live, but they also offer program services to help put young mothers and their children on the path to a better future. Several federal resources are available to help state and local governments and community-based organizations create Second Chance Homes that provide safe, stable, nurturing environments for teen mothers and their children.

"I have to say Visions (a Second Chance Home in Massachusetts) helped me quite a bit, I loved them. I wanted to go somewhere [with my life], and the staff respected me for that."

Tara, age 18

Second Chance Homes programs vary across the country, but generally include:

  • An adult-supervised, supportive living arrangement
  • Pregnancy prevention services or referrals
  • A requirement to finish high school or obtain a GED
  • Access to support services such as child care, health care, transportation, and counseling
  • Parenting and life skills classes
  • Education, job training, and employment services
  • Community involvement
  • Individual case management and mentoring
  • Culturally sensitive services
  • Services to ensure a smooth transition to independent living


Second Chance Homes offer a nurturing home for society's most vulnerable families  teen mothers and their children with nowhere else to go. Almost half of all poor children under six are born to adolescent parents. Children of teen mothers are 50 percent more likely to have low birthweight, 33 percent more likely to become teen mothers themselves, and 2.7 times more likely to be incarcerated than the sons of mothers who delay childbearing. Teen mothers are half as likely to earn their high school diplomas or GEDs and are more likely to be on welfare than mothers who are older when they give birth.(1) In addition, research shows that over 60 percent of teen parents have experienced sexual and/or physical abuse, often by a household member.(2) Limited early findings indicate that residents of Second Chance Homes have fewer repeat pregnancies, better high school/GED completion rates, stronger life skills, increased self-sufficiency, and healthier babies.(3)

"When I was younger I said, 'I'm never going on welfare. I'm going to college' (but) school was just too much... I know I need help for me and my son. I always wanted to be a lawyer when I was a kid, but now with a kid and all, I just want to go one step at a time  be a paralegal, and then college and law school."

Sabrina, age 19

Second Chance Homes help teen mothers and their children comply with welfare reform requirements. Under the 1996 welfare law, an unmarried parent under 18 cannot receive welfare assistance unless she lives with a parent, guardian or adult relative. However, if such a living arrangement is inappropriate (for example, if her family's whereabouts are unknown or if she was abused), states may waive the rule and either determine her current living arrangement to be appropriate, or help her find an alternative adult-supervised supportive living arrangement such as a Second Chance Home. Also, in states where alternatives such as Second Chance Homes are currently not available, teen mothers could be forced to choose between inappropriate living arrangements and losing their cash assistance. Making Second Chance Homes available to teen mothers in need could provide these teens with stable housing, case management, and preparation for independent living.

Second Chance Homes can support teen families who are homeless or in foster care. State foster care systems may not have the capacity to place the teens and their children together, and frequently, homeless shelters, battered women's shelters, and transitional living facilities cannot accept teen parents under age 17. Unfortunately, homelessness poses the threat of separation in young families. For vulnerable families with no safe, stable places to go, Second Chance Homes can help fill the gap.


Eligibility criteria for Second Chance Homes vary from program to program. Some programs are targeted for adolescent mothers (between the ages of 14 to 20, for example), mothers receiving welfare assistance, or homeless families. Other programs are open to any mother in need of a place to live  regardless of age, income or the assistance program for which she qualifies. Teen mothers can be referred to Second Chance Homes through welfare agencies, homeless shelters, or foster care programs, or by community organizations, schools, clinics, or hospitals. Mothers may also self-refer.


Nationwide, at least 6 states have made a statewide commitment to Second Chance Home programs: Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Texas and Georgia. In statewide networks, community-based organizations operate the homes under contract to the states and deliver the services. States share in the cost of the program, refer teens to homes, and set standards and guidelines for services to teen families. In addition, there are many local Second Chance Home programs operating in an estimated 25 additional states. For a directory of programs, please visit:


State legislatures may allocate Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) block grant funds for Second Chance Homes. Like TANF, state maintenance-of-effort (MOE) funds and the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) are flexible, and largely under states' discretion in terms of how they are spent. States and communities may also explore other sources of funding from HHS and HUD (see the attached chart). Additional state and private sources of funding are available to fill in funding gaps, help providers acquire or rehabilitate Second Chance Homes, or develop specialized Second Chance Homes for teen parents who are homeless or in foster care.


The attached chart contains detailed information on the major sources of Federal funding for Second Chance Homes that are available from HHS and HUD. In addition to the Federal sites that are included in the chart, more general information about the Administration for Children and Families (the agency that oversees most of the relevant programs within the Department of Health and Human Services) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development can be found at: and respectively. An HHS paper describing Second Chance Homes and some things that decision makers at the state and local levels may want to consider as they start or implement a Second Chance Home program can be accessed online at

There are a number of non-governmental organizations that have been actively assessing Second Chance Homes and providing technical assistance to states. The Social Policy Action Network (SPAN) has been a leader in documenting existing programs, identifying best practices and developing guides and a directory of homes. For more information about SPAN, call 202-434-4767 or online at Other organizations that can provide useful information about providing services to teen parents in need include The Child Welfare League of America, Florence Crittendon Division (CWLA), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), and the Center for Assessment and Policy Development (CAPD)

What Major Resources are Available?

Name of Resource What Aspects of SCH Can These Funds Pay For? Restrictions on Funding Who Receives Funds? Where can I get more information?
HHS Sources of Assistance
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant


State Maintenance of Effort Dollars (MOE)

Planning & operating costs; cash assistance to teens; parenting & life skills classes; child care; job training & placement; counseling; case management; follow-up services. Also, anything that reasonably meets the four broad purposes of TANF. For MOE all of the above. Cannot be used for facility construction or medical care except family planning; "assistance" such as housing an cash aid can only go to needy teens. For MOE, all funds must be spent on needy families. States define who is needy. States, in the form of block grants; states decide how funds are spent within context of TANF; plan that must be reviewed and certified by HHS. For MOE, state decides how funds are spent. State contacts for this funding stream are provided through this site:
Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Child care assistance for low-income families who are working or attending training/education; quality improvement efforts such as grants or training for child care providers. CCDF cannot be used for construction or major renovation (except for Indian Tribes). Families receiving subsidies must meet income eligibility requirements and have children under age 13 (or age 19 if not capable of self care). States, Territories, and Indian Tribes in the form of formula block grants. State contacts for this funding stream are provided through this site:
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) Planning & operating costs; parenting & life skills classes; child care; job training & placement; counseling; case management; follow-up services. Cannot be used for facility purchase, construction, renovation; medical care except family planning; cash aid; unlicensed child care; drug rehab; public education; room and board; services in hospitals, nursing homes, or prisons. States, in the form of formula block grants; states must report to HHS on how funds are spent and who is served. State contacts for this funding stream are provided through this site:
Child Welfare Services Title IV-B Subpart 1 and 2 Funds Child welfare services, family preservation and reunification, family support, adoption promotion and support. All children receiving State or Federal foster care funds must also receive certain protections under Title IV-B. States and Indian Tribes receive Title IV-B subpart 1 and 2 funds on a formula basis.
Independent Living Program Room and board (for youth aged 18-21 only); education; life skills training; counseling; case management. Funds must be spent on youth between the ages of 18 and 21 to assist them in making the transition from foster care to independent living. States, on a formula basis.
Transitional Living Program for Homeless Youth Housing, life skills training, interpersonal skills building, education, job training, health care. Funds can only be used to serve youth aged 16-21 for up to 18 months who are: homeless, including those for whom it is not possible to live in a safe environment with a relative; and who do not have an alternative safe living arrangement. HHS awards 3-year competitive grants to multi-purpose youth service organizations.
HUD Sources of Assistance
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Facility purchase, construction, renovation; planning operating costs; parenting & life skills classes; child care; job training & placement; counseling; case management; follow-up services. At least 70 percent of funds must benefit low and moderate income families; states and communities must prepare action plan with community input. States, major cities, urban counties, in the form of formula block grants. Contact your local HUD office. A listing is available at:
HUD Supportive Housing Program Facility purchase, construction, renovation; new or increased services to the homeless; operating expenses; some admin costs. Funds must be spent on homeless persons only; 25 percent set aside for families with children; 25 percent set aside for disabled; 10 percent set aside for supportive services not provided with housing. Homeless minors may be eligible to receive services under this funding source unless they are considered wards of the state under applicable state law. HUD awards 3-year, renewable competitive grants to states, tribes, cities, counties, other governmental entities, private non-profits, community mental health associations. Contact your local HUD office. A listing is available at:
HUD Emergency Shelter Grants Facility renovation; operating costs; homelessness prevention; employment, health, drug abuse, education services. Funds must be spent on the homeless or those at risk of being homeless; only 5 percent of funds can be used for admin costs, and 30 percent for prevention and services. Homeless minors may be eligible to receive services under this funding source unless they are considered wards of the state under applicable state law. States, major cities, urban counties, in the form of formula grants. Contact your local HUD office. A listing is available at:
Rental Assistance Vouchers In general, the voucher pays the landlord the difference between 30% of a renting family's gross income and the price of the rental unit, up to a local maximum. Teenage mothers may be eligible for vouchers. However, the voucher program requires that a lease be signed by the renter, and in some states minors may not sign a lease. Individual PHAs determine whether a shared housing facility is an acceptable use for the voucher. The PHA must approve the renter and the unit according to various eligibility criteria. In order to receive a voucher, a renter must apply to his/her local Public Housing Authority. Contact your local Public Housing Authority.
HUD's Dollar Homes Program Property acquisition.   Local governments (cities and counties) can purchase HUD owned homes for $1 each, plus closing costs, to create housing for families and communities in need. Local governments can purchase these homes and then convey them to non-profit organizations for use.

Also, the full text of Housing Notice 00-7 ("Implementation of $1 Home Sales to Local Governments Program") can be downloaded at (Click on "Housing Notices")

HUD's Non-Profit Sales Program Property acquisition. Direct sales of properties foreclosed by the Federal Housing Authority. Discounts of 30% off the list price are offered if the property is not eligible for FHA insurance and is located in a HUD-designated "revitalization" area. Other properties are offered at 10% discounts off list price (or 15% if five or more properties are purchased and closed in a single transaction). These discounts apply to sales in both restricted and general property listings. Non-profit organizations can purchase properties at a discount through this program.
Other Sources of Assistance
McKinney Act Title V Program Property acquisition. Properties are leased without charge for a period of 1 to 20 years, but the entity providing homeless services must pay for operating and repair costs. Surplus properties can be made available to States, local governments and non-profit organizations for use to assist the homeless. Available properties are listed in the HUD Federal Register notice listing property availability. HHS handles the application portion of the program. Within HUD: at the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (202) 708-1234

From HHS: (301) 443-2265

Military Base Closures Property acquisition.   When a military base is being closed, a Local Redevelopment Authority is designated to redeploy the assets of the base. Contact your Local Redevelopment Authority


1.  Rebecca Maynard, Kids Having Kids, Robinhood Foundation's Special Report on Cost of Adolescent Childbearing, 1996.

2.  Debra Boyer and David Fine, Victimization and Other Risk Factors for Child Maltreatment Among School Age Parents: A Longitudinal Study, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1990.

3.  Evaluation of Programs for Teen Parents and Their Children, Boston University School of Social Work, June 1998.