Welfare Reform Means Nothing If HHS Cannot Measure Its Success

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 5, 1996 | Go to article overview

Welfare Reform Means Nothing If HHS Cannot Measure Its Success


In Cheryl Wetztein's Dec. 25 article, "Welfare reform has sex program: Measure would teach abstinence" the report implies that the Adolescent Family Life program of the Department of Health and Human Services was diluted because "only a third of AFL funds went to abstinence demonstration projects." I doubt that any of these was adequately evaluated, which is the real problem. If abstinence education is to succeed it must be accompanied by vigorous evaluation of adolescent sexual behavior, not attitudes, which experts on adolescence will point out are not predictive of future behavior. Pregnancy and birth rates must be measured.

It would be great if an intervention strategy promoting abstinence not only worked but was evaluated so that HHS could report that its programs were actually decreasing the incidence of teen pregnancies and births. But until this type of program is reliably evaluated we are left only with admonitions, not evidence that we are having an impact on the seemingly intractable problem of teen sexual activity and pregnancy. …

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Welfare Reform Means Nothing If HHS Cannot Measure Its Success
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