Published Online: January 27, 1999
Published in Print: January 27, 1999, as Children & Families


Children & Families

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Teenage Mothers: Girls who attend schools where violence, drug use, and crime are problems are more likely than other teenagers to become mothers before they finish high school, concludes a recent study by Child Trends, a nonprofit, Washington-based research center.

The study, which looked at female students over a four-year period, beginning in 8th grade, found that those in safer schools were less likely to become mothers.

In addition, the report says, girls who said they expected to be successful in school and to complete college were less likely than those without such plans to become teenage mothers.

"Nonmarital School-Age Motherhood: Family, Individual, and School Characteristics" also found that girls who were held back at least one grade before reaching 8th grade were twice as likely as other girls to become mothers by the time they were high school seniors.

Transient students--those who changed schools four or more times between the 1st and 8th grades--also were more likely to give birth by the 12th grade.

Participation in school clubs and religious groups was found to correlate with a lower risk of becoming a teenage mother.

Welfare to Work: Americans support a wide range of programs--including those that provide education and training, subsidize child care, and provide transportation--to help people on public assistance move from welfare to work, according to a recent poll.

A majority of the 3,400 people responding to the survey sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation also said that the working poor should be eligible to receive the same benefits as those who are moving off welfare.

The survey was part of the Battle Creek, Mich., foundation's Devolution Initiative, an effort to gather and share information about welfare changes.

Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said that subsidized child care should be available to all low-income families so that parents can work.

Those surveyed also ranked health insurance as the most important support needed by people trying to leave welfare. Seventy-eight percent said the government should pay for health coverage for children whose parents cannot afford it.

The results, says William C. Richardson, the foundation's president and chief executive officer, show that "Americans are not willing to judge the success of reform efforts merely on the basis of a reduction in the numbers of those receiving public-income support."

--Linda Jacobson

Vol. 18, Issue 20, Page 6

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