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A Resource Guide of Best Practices for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs


The Problem
Pennsylvania's Response to the Problem
Effectiveness of Programs



The Problem

Every year one million teenage girls in the United States become pregnant before they leave high school. In 1995, Pennsylvania reported 24,000 births to young women, with approximately 9,500 babies born to teens between the ages of 15 and 17.

The consequences of early childbearing for many teen parents and their children are well-documented. Adolescent mothers are less likely to complete their education, be employed or earn sufficient wages, and are more likely to become welfare dependent. Children of adolescent mothers have more health problems; many become victims of child abuse and neglect; and they are more likely to fail in school, drop out and have children at an early age.

Pennsylvania's Response to the Problem

Research indicates that a significant factor in determining future success for the pregnant and parenting teen is the attainment of a high school diploma. Based on this information, the Pennsylvania Department of Education introduced a school-based pregnant and parenting teen initiative in 1985. In 1997-98 there were 38 school districts, 14 intermediate units and seven vocational-technical schools participating in the initiative which encompasses 285 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.

Designed to increase positive outcomes for teen parents and their children, these programs provide the following core service components:

health/nutrition education;
individual/group counseling;
child development/parenting education;
vocational/career counseling; and
assistance in accessing child care and transportation services.

In 1991, through the Family Support Act of 1988, a unique partnership was established between Pennsylvania's Departments of Public Welfare and Education, which resulted in the creation of Project ELECT (Education Leading to Employment and Career Training). This initiative was designed to expand the services of existing teen parent programs and provide comprehensive support services to help welfare-eligible pregnant and parenting students complete their education and become self-sufficient adults. The ELECT program sites were selected on the presence of a large welfare-eligible pregnant and parenting teen population and the ability of the Local Education Agency to provide appropriate services.

In addition to the core service components of the pregnant and parenting teen initiative, ELECT projects provide:

intensive case management;
attendance monitoring;
year-round programming;
community collaboration; and
transitional services.

With the recent Welfare Reform legislation and its emphasis on job readiness, ELECT programs have expanded their transitional services to prepare students for entry into the work force upon graduation. These support services are also being provided to youth pursuing their GED.

Effectiveness of Programs

Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs have been effective in keeping students in school, supporting their attainment of a high school diploma and encouraging their self-sufficiency as parents and productive members of their communities.

In the 1996-97 school year, 5,328 students were served by PPT Programs. Of this population:

89 percent of students remained in school;
75.8 percent of seniors graduated;
the number of low birthweight babies born to teens was significantly reduced;
249 students reenrolled in school; and
thousands of students accessed important community services and support.


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last updated April 27, 1999

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