Improving outcomes for teen parents and their children in Massachusetts 2017: an analysis of population changes and service needs
MetadataShow full item record
BACKGROUND: A substantial decline in the rate of teen births and changes in the population of teen parents have occurred over the past two decades with corresponding shifts in service needs. Past research has found services to teen parents to have initial or preliminary success, with little to no long-term change enacted. A novel service being implemented in Chelsea, Massachusetts has shown promise in dealing with very high risk teen parents. QUESTION AND SPECIFIC AIMS: A. Has the decline in teen births in Massachusetts come primarily from teens at lower medical and socio-demographic risk resulting in the current cohort of teen mothers constituting a higher risk group? B. How does the novel approach used by the High-Risk Young Mother’s Program at Roca Inc. effectively engage and serve a high-risk population? C. What lessons can be applied from this approach to services for high-risk teen mothers in other settings? METHODS: Both qualitative and quantitative methodology provided the basis for an in-depth examination of teen parenting services in a time of transition. This investigation examined two cohorts of teen births data in Massachusetts to compare changes in the population of teens giving birth from a time when teen births were high (1999–2003) in Massachusetts to more recently (2009–2013) after a dramatic decline. A case study was then developed of an innovative program that has had success in reaching a higher risk population in order to discern lessons for the field. Research was guided by the PARiHS implementation science theoretical framework in order to understand the barriers and facilitators to organization change tailored to reach this vulnerable population. RESULTS: Modest changes in the population of teens giving birth in the later cohort indicate a consolidation of risk in certain communities. Teens who gave birth in the more recent cohort were more likely to be Hispanic, more likely to report no prenatal care, less likely to have a father reported on the birth certificate, and more likely to have anemia. The Roca Inc. program involved adaptation and flexibility, adherence to a theory of change, and dedication to serving girls who have experienced trauma. Implications Further research is needed to assess the changes in teens giving birth despite overall declines in teen pregnancy nationally. The Roca Inc. program can serve as a model for reaching and successfully serving vulnerable youth and families.