"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
"When I was younger I said, Im
never going on welfare. Im 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
What Are They?
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.
Chance Homes programs vary across the country, but generally include:
adult-supervised, supportive living arrangement
- Pregnancy prevention
services or referrals
- A requirement to finish high school or obtain a
- Access to support services such as child care, health care, transportation,
- Parenting and life skills classes
job training, and employment services
- Community involvement
case management and mentoring
- Culturally sensitive services
to ensure a smooth transition to independent living
Are They Important?
Second Chance Homes offer a nurturing home for societys
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. In addition,
research shows that over 60 percent of teen parents have experienced sexual and/or
physical abuse, often by a household member. 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
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 familys 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 womens
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.
Who Is Elgible?
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.
Where Are They?
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 the SPAN Web site.
Federal Resources Are Available?
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.
Can I Learn More?
The list of available resources
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 on the
program may be found at 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. There is also a 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.
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
visit the SPAN Web site. 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).