Maternity Group Homes for Young Mothers in Florida: A Mixed Methods Examination View Loaded
Early pregnancy and parenting are related to educational, financial, and social disruptions for young adults and increase the risk of poor developmental outcomes for their children. The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) provides funds to states to mitigate poor maternal and child outcomes among early parents. Maternity homes, one mitigation approach, receive FFPSA funds. However, little is known about the operation and impact of maternity homes in Florida.
The research team used a multitiered, mixed methods approach by convening a stakeholder advisory panel, conducting program reviews, surveying former maternity home residents, and interviewing both maternity home providers and former residents. Findings can inform service delivery through providing a descriptive picture of current services, associations between service receipt and outcomes, and an understanding of how and why young mothers receive the services that they do. Most mothers had experience in foster care, so the researchers limited the analytic sample to mothers with foster care experience who completed a qualitative interview (n = 25). They included all provider small-group interviews.
To gain knowledge about maternity homes for pregnant and parenting young mothers in Florida and their impact on maternal and child well-being, specifically to:
- describe the program models, services, and target population served in maternity homes in Florida;
- document the services that maternity home residents receive and how these services contribute to maternal and child well-being after program exit; and
- gain insight into mothers’ and providers’ experiences with maternity homes and perceptions of service impact within the context of young mothers’ lives.
- Most mothers were in their late teens or early twenties and identified as women of color. Mothers were generally socioeconomically disadvantaged. Nearly half experienced homelessness in their lifetime and 16 percent had exchanged sex for food, money, drugs, or shelter. Nearly one-fourth were currently enrolled in an educational program and one-third were employed, most commonly in the service industry. Mothers averaged approximately 5 years in foster care, with 40 percent experiencing 10 or more placements. Approximately one-half of mothers were currently living in independent living programs. Twenty-two of the 25 respondents learned of the survey from their maternity home director or case manager. Over half of mothers were receiving extended foster care services.
- Participating maternity homes serve pregnant and parenting teens between ages 11 and 21, including mothers in the foster care system. Program goals and missions prioritized 1) helping teen mothers establish safety; 2) developing positive parenting skills; and 3) preparing for independent living.
- From the mothers’ perspective, most reported receiving independent living skills, educational assistance, counseling or therapy, medical coordination, childcare assistance, and friendship within the home. Still, only one mother shared that she was prepared for self-sufficiency upon maternity home exit.
- Interviews with mothers and providers illuminated the context around mothers’ experiences with maternity homes. Themes that arose in the interviews include: 1) adversity, crisis, and rejection; 2) tension between useful programs and structured delivery; 3) unfulfilled aspirations for connections; and 4) slow progress toward independence.