Welfare Reformers Urged To Target Teenage Mothers
Welfare-reform efforts should focus "more explicitly'' on providing training and work experience to teenage mothers, the group likely to have the hardest time getting off welfare and becoming self-sufficient, the General Accounting Office has recommended.
In a series of reports on welfare families that were released last month, the G.A.O. says that women who gave birth as teenagers made up nearly half of the Aid to Families with Dependent Children caseload in 1992.
While they are no less likely to work than other women on welfare, those who gave birth as teenagers were found to be among the poorest recipients, with more than half having family incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty line. Besides earning less than other recipients, they also were less likely to have high school diplomas and were more likely to have larger numbers of children.
The G.A.O. also cites data showing that women without high school diplomas or recent work experience leave welfare at a significantly slower rate than others do.
Among its other findings, the study chronicles a "dramatic growth'' in the number of never-married women receiving welfare.
Awaiting Clinton Plan
The G.A.O. urges Congress to explore preventive strategies to discourage young mothers from becoming dependent on welfare. It also recommends that the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training Program, created in 1988, narrow its focus to the youngest parents to help teenage mothers achieve self-sufficiency.
The study comes as the Clinton Administration is working to complete its welfare-reform plan, which the President is expected to unveil this week. But observers say the likelihood of Congressional action on the issue this year has dimmed.
The G.A.O. reports addressing issues involving teenage mothers and families, under the series titled "Families on Welfare,'' include "Teenage Mothers Least Likely To Become Self-Sufficient,'' "Focus on Teenage Mothers Could Enhance Welfare Reform Efforts,'' and "Sharp Rise in Never-Married Women Reflects Societal Trends.''
Single copies of each are free, and additional copies are $2; they
are available from the U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6-15,
Gaithersburg, Md. 20884-6015.