Welfare Dependency:

Coordinated Community Efforts Can Better Serve Young At-Risk Teen Girls

HEHS/RCED-95-108: Published: May 10, 1995. Publicly Released: May 10, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on teenage girls who may be at risk for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) dependency, focusing on: (1) the health and well being of at-risk teenage girls, their families, and their urban neighborhoods' conditions; (2) local service providers' perspectives on these girls' needs and how they are addressing those needs; and (3) how communities respond to these girls' service needs.

GAO found that: (1) local AFDC service providers have characterized many of the 10- to 15-year old girls they serve as detached from their families and communities, sexually abused, neglected, and threatened by violence; (2) economic and social conditions such as poverty, deteriorating neighborhoods, dysfunctional families, and a poor self-image have created a population of teen girls who are at-risk for long-term AFDC dependency; (3) services for at-risk teen girls are limited and are often unavailable until after a crisis, uncoordinated, and are not readily accessible; (4) teenage girls receive a lower level of services than other at-risk groups and are offered few preventive services; (5) some neighborhoods are organizing coalitions to better serve these girls; (6) some providers have expanded their community roles to better integrate services for at-risk teens and their families; and (7) new service delivery strategies include identifying and providing multiple preventive services and activities, encouraging parents to become involved in their children's activities, and increasing the community's participation and commitment to the initiative.

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