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Authors

Aries

Abstract

This paper will examine the political, social, and economic factors which underlie the transition in services from unwed mothers to teenage parents over the past 15 years. The experience of agencies in the Boston area serves as the basis for this case study. Data have been collected from open-ended interviews with key service providers who have developed and implemented policy related to adolescent parents.

The findings indicate that, prior to 1960, agencies were responding to what was perceived as individual problems or circumstances. Illegitimacy was thought to be an unconscious attempt by white middle class women to fulfill psychological needs. The rediscovery of poverty resulting in the expansion of human services, and the declining utilization of maternity homes due to changing social attitudes relative to abortion and childbearing led to the creation of comprehensive service programs for adolescent parents. Unlike their predecesors, these programs were designed to serve a younger, black population that planned to keep its infants. The reorganization of the service system, however, still failed to address the problem of white working class adolescents who comprise the greatest number of teenage parents.

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