Lives of Promise, Lives of Pain

Young Mothers After New Chance

| Janet Quint, Judith Musick

This monograph reports the findings of a study based on interviews with 50 young mothers who participated in a national research and demonstration program called New Chance. New Chance sought to increase the employment, economic self-sufficiency, and general well-being of young women receiving welfare who were high school dropouts, and to enhance the learning and development of their children as well. These young families constituted a segment of the welfare population that was at especially high risk of long-term poverty and receipt of public assistance. During the program’s demonstration phase, which began in 1989 and concluded in 1992, New Chance was operated by community-based organizations, schools, a community college, and municipal agencies at 16 locations (or “sites”) in 10 states across the country, and enrolled over 1,550 young women.

New Chance offered a much wider spectrum of services and a more supportive environment than the majority of adult education, training, or other welfare-to-work programs for recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children. And unlike such programs, it focused on participants’ roles as mothers as well as potential workers. The employment thrust of the intervention and the comprehensiveness, intensity, and duration of its services also differentiated New Chance from many previous programs for young mothers and high school dropouts.

The effectiveness of the New Chance treatment was assessed through a large random assignment evaluation of the program’s impacts, costs, and benefits. This monograph is a complementary effort, relying on close examination of a small group of participants to provide insight into their behavior.