Carol Lewis, Ph.D.
Duration: 1/03 – 6/07
Austin Learning Academy (ALA) is a private, non-profit agency that provides family literacy programs in areas of Austin, TX that show lower per capita income, higher levels of poverty, and higher levels of unemployment, with a focus on zip codes 78702, 78744, and 78745. This agency works in close collaboration with Austin Independent School District (AISD) to implement the family literacy model. Components of this model include: Head Start and Even Start programs (early childhood education, adult literacy training, parenting training); technology training (computer literacy, Internet and Web access and training); academic enrichment programs in school for children and teens; and community service learning activities.
In response to concerns about the effects of teen pregnancy and parenting on education, ALA, in collaboration with AISD and other community-based agencies, applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs (OAPP) to fund the Adolescent Family Life Care (AFLC) Program. This project addresses issues of teen pregnancy prevention and support for teen parents through enhancement of existing services and improving service delivery coordination among community agencies in the Austin area.
The target populations for the project are: 1) pregnant adolescents and adolescent mothers under age 19 with an emphasis on unmarried adolescent mothers who are age 17 or younger and 2) families of these adolescents, including the fathers of the children. Many of the participants in the project utilize the child care centers located at Crockett or Garza High Schools.
Services funded through the AFLC project include direct and indirect services. Directly provided services include case management, parent support, parent education, child care, and transportation. Indirect services will be provided primarily through referral to collaborating agencies. These services include pregnancy testing and maternity counseling; primary and preventive health services (includes prenatal and postnatal care), adoption information, vocational services, mental health services, and family planning services. Project funding will allow for the addition of several staff positions, including a program director, a case manager, enhanced medical case management, and a teen parent educator. Other allied positions not directly funded by this grant, but working closely with its staff, include ALA’s executive director, a curriculum specialist, an early childhood teacher, and classroom teachers.
The AFLC Project has the following Outcome Objectives:
- Outcome Objective One: Eighty-five percent of pregnant participants will return to school within three months after the birth of their child and earn credits towards their diploma or GED. Eighty-five percent of all parenting participants who participate in AFLC for at least three months will be working toward graduation or a GED or will have graduated or received a GED.
- Outcome Objective Two: Within two years of giving birth to the target infant, 90% of adolescent mothers in the program will not have an unplanned pregnancy.
- Outcome Objective Three: Ninety-five percent of participating children in the program will receive the necessary immunizations by age 2, following the recommended schedule by Texas Department of Health.
- Outcome Objective Four: Seventy-five percent of adolescent parents will demonstrate an increase on their HOME Inventory Scores after at least 6 months in the program.
- Outcome Objective Five: Ninety-five percent of children enrolled in the early childhood class will show developmentally appropriate behavior within normal ranges, as assessed by the Denver II Assessment.
The Austin Learning Academy contracted with the Center for Social Work Research in the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work to conduct the evaluation of the AFLC Program. The evaluation involves collecting data through the administration of questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. Research interests include the affect the AFLC Program has on student outcomes; the quality of relationships that pregnant and parenting adolescents have with friends, mentors, and groups; the accessibility of healthcare and utilization of various methods of contraception to prevent subsequent pregnancies.
The on-site childcare facilities and parenting classes/group support appear to be the most valued aspects of the program by the participating parenting and pregnant adolescents. Most participants stated that they would recommend the program to a friend or family member and that the AFLC Program had positively affected their life and their child’s life.
Austin Learning Academy, Austin, TX
Keywords: child welfare, families, children, youth