Challenges Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency Among Teen Mothers

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Updated: Jun 17, 2021
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Challenges Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency Among Teen Mothers essay

“Economic self-sufficiency is commonly understood as financial independence from government or family assistance (Everhardt, 2014; Shlay, 1994). In 2017, teenage females between the ages 15 and 19 gave birth to 194,377 babies and birth rates have decreased 7% compare to previous year (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018). The risk related to teenage pregnancy have a detrimental impact on society as it causes financial burden on taxpayers at local, state and national government (Dorrell, 1994). Young mothers are more likely to rely on public assistance compare to older mothers (Hudgins, Erickson and Walker, 2014). As part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (Public Law 104-193) Congress created the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) an income support program (Bowie and Dopwell, 2013; Hill and Cain, 2012; Joseph, 2018). TANF is a federal program that provide block grants to states and each states have the flexibility on how to implement and administer the TANF programs (Hill and Cain, 2012). Public assistance program California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) provide cash assistance and services to eligible families and their children (California Department of Social Services, 2019). Individuals receiving aid are required to participate in the Welfare-to-Work (WTW) activities to work toward self-sufficiency (California Legislative Information, 2019). Teen parents receiving aid are required to participate in the Cal-Learn program to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent (California Legislative Information, 2019).

Teenage pregnancy is a contributing factor for continuing the cycle of social welfare dependency (Dorrell, 1994). This research aims to examine the factors to achieving economic self-sufficiency among teen mothers participating in welfare programs. The term or concept of self-sufficiency is not clearly defined by the government or scholars however it is typically connected with welfare-for-work programs (Joseph, 2018). For the purpose of this research, economic self-sufficiency is commonly understood as the individual ability to consistently meet their needs without financial assistance from family or government (Gates, Koza and Akabas, 2017). Several articles discuss barriers to self-sufficiency such as lack of employment, minimal education, affordable childcare and transportation (Everhardt, 2014; Joseph, 2018). Recent research or literature are limited about positive outcomes among single mothers achieving economic self-sufficiency. Research article by Hudgins, Erickson and Walker (2014) evaluated data from teen parents in Second Chance Home programs revealed improvements in education, housing, income, self-sufficiency and parenting outcomes. It has been the main focus for social work profession to alleviate poverty (Gates, Koza and Akabas, 2017). The focus of this research is to explore strategies and develop programs to assist teen parents overcome their unique challenges to improve their success in achieving economic self-sufficiency.

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Federal government provides an annual block grant of $16.5 billion for TANF programs and each state will contribute their own funds toward the budget (Joseph, 2018). TANF served 1.5 million families in 2014 (Joseph, 2018). The programs fail to engage their participants to participate in any job-readiness programs or work-related activities (Joseph, 2018).

Current social work educational programs have prepared professionals to respond to issues related to employment however their education is still lacking and that leaves them with lack of understanding of basic financial concepts to serve their clients, families and communities (Gates, Koza and Akabas, 2017).”

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Challenges Achieving Economic Self-Sufficiency among Teen Mothers. (2021, Jun 17). Retrieved from