Clinton Plans Homes For Teen Parents

Saturday, August 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The birth rate among teen-agers has dropped, but girls and young women still have nearly a half-million babies each year, President Clinton said Saturday in promoting second-chance homes that provide job counseling and parenting skills.

``These homes provide teen-age moms and their babies with an environment that is safe, supportive and supervised,'' Clinton said in his radio address, which he taped on Air Force One while flying to Los Angeles to attend the Democratic National Convention.

``The teens get the help they need to finish school. They learn how to care for their children and manage a budget. Some homes also work with teen fathers.''

Clinton urged Congress to provide $25 million to start more second-chance homes.

He also directed the secretaries of the Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development departments to make it easier for community- and religion-based groups to acquire vacant or foreclosed property to create more second-chance homes for teen parents. The government, he said, would give communities a road map of federal and state resources they can use to set up more of these homes.

``I read of one young Massachusetts woman who got pregnant at 14, and soon was estranged from her family with no place to live,'' Clinton said. ``With the help of a second-chance home, she got back on her feet, trained at a community college and has left welfare to become a proud, working mother.''

The president cited a report this week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that teen-agers are having babies at the lowest rate in at least 60 years. For every 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19, there were about 50 births last year, the lowest level since the statistic was first recorded six decades ago.

If the teen birth rate had remained at its peak in 1991, teen mothers would have given birth to 120,000 more babies this year, Clinton said.

Explaining the drop-off in teen births, analysts said the HIV virus and AIDS became mainstream enough in the 1990s to scare teen-agers, while awareness of other sexually transmitted diseases was at an all-time high. They said ad campaigns, community awareness groups and even seeing friends have children encouraged teens to be more careful — or stop having sex entirely.