Remarks by Marva Livingston Hammons
From 1991 to 1996, the teen pregnancy rate in Michigan
fell 18.5 percent. We have seen a decrease from 1500 minor grantee
cases in 1992 to 179 in April of 1998.
Our strategy to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births
changing our own thinking about this issue, which fostered
dramatic changes in our welfare policies.
participation in the Michigan Abstinence Partnership whose
140 members include business, health professionals, schools, religious
institutions, community groups and citizens at large and
In Michigan, we are giving a consistent message that unwed
teens do not need the extra burden of having to care for a child.
legislation which requires minor parents under age 18 to
live in adult-supervised households in order to qualify for public assistance.
Under our states welfare reform initiative, To Strengthen
Michigan Families, we have been requiring minor parents to live under adult
supervision since October of 1992.
In 1995, the Michigan Legislature adopted a welfare reform
statute which mandates that all minor parents under 18 must live in an
adult-supervised household in order to qualify for public assistance.
For cases in which a parent, other relative or legal guardian
has a history of physical or sexual abuse, or where there is drug abuse
or domestic violence in the teens parental home, the teen must live in
another adult-supervised living arrangement approved by the Family Independence
We make an exception if the teen is 17, in high school
full time, and a move to an adult-supervised setting would require a change
In September of 1993, the Michigan Family Independence
Agency began implementing the Teen Parent Program with 21 pilot sites in
18 of its 83 counties.
This program is designed to strengthen the capacity of
teen parents to achieve self-sufficiency, to prevent a second pregnancy
and to increase the teens ability to meet the developmental needs of their
An ongoing evaluation of the Teen parent Program began
October first of 1994. The first year evaluation included these specific
77.8 percent of teens without high school diplomas who were
receiving self-sufficiency services were either involved in education programs
upon entering the program or became involved in such within a year of program
84.1 percent of participating teens who were not pregnant
at time of intake did not become pregnant within one year of program entry.
97.4 percent of the teens who were pregnant at the time of
program entry were participating in prenatal care at that time, decreasing
the chances of low birth weight infants and increasing the chances of positive
outcome live births.
99.8 percent of the teen parents did not have a substantiated
child abuse or neglect finding for one year from program entry.
A survey of local office field staff released last month
And 76.7 percent of teens 17 or under were residing
in what would be considered acceptable living arrangements under the minor
78.2 percent of minor grantees with active Family Independence
Program cases were 17 years of age.
83.5 percent of the minor grantees lived with an adult relative,
unrelated adult, or in a supervised setting at the time of application
and 9.8 percent lived independently.
4.5 percent of the minor grantees had a high school diploma,
78.2 percent were attending school, and 12.8 percent were attending school
This chart indicates the declining rates of teen pregnancy
per 1,000 of the 15 to 19 year-old Michigan population from 1984 to 1996.
Here are the actual rates per 1,000.
Our serious concerns about the mixed messages on sexual
behavior which confront our teens prompted us to participate in the Michigan
Abstinence Partnership since its inception in 1993.
The partnership seeks to improve the health of Michigans
children between the ages of nine and fourteen by encouraging abstinence
from risky behaviors, including sexual activity.
Michigan Abstinence Partnership promotional materials
send the same message the New York City Board of Education uses on posters
warning against teen pregnancy: Its like being grounded for 18 years.
The partnership has developed a number of educational
materials including information on how to communicate with children about
sexual abstinence, community training workbooks, an action primer and a
Michigan supports the partnership with a combination of
tobacco tax dollars and fundraising efforts targeting corporations, foundations
Michigan is also conducting a program targeting state
and local law enforcement officials, the education system, counseling services,
parents, teens and young males for education and training on statutory
rape. This expands the scope of our teen pregnancy prevention programs
to include men.
The programs goal is to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock
births resulting from underage consent, or force, or coercion, 20 percent
by the Year 2000.
The English writer Dora Russell wrote: We want
far better reasons for having children than not knowing how to prevent
We believe our early welfare reform efforts have contributed
to the decline we have seen in unwed teen pregnancies during the 1990s.
Our efforts are entirely consistent with the federal Personal Responsibility
and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 which requires states to take actions
designed to reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births, particularly those
that are the result of teen pregnancies.
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