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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2000

Illinois Receives $20 Million from U.S. Government for Reducing the Birth Rate to Unwed Mothers

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan announced today that Illinois will receive $20 million from the United States Department of Health and Human Services - a "bonus" payment in recognition of Illinois' progress in reducing the number of births to unmarried women.

Congress created the bonus, given annually to five states, as part of the 1996 federal welfare reform act. The 2000 states were selected using data from 1995 to 1998.

"It is a honor for Illinois to be selected to receive this bonus, " Ryan said. "This is an indication that our efforts to reduce teen pregnancy are working.

The governor and agency officials have not yet determined how the $20 million "bonus" payment will be allocated within the state budget.

"This issue is not just about reducing births; it is about giving women in Illinois the information and the tools that they need to better their lives and build a promising future for themselves and their families. I applaud everyone for their hard work," the governor added.

Illinois' achievements were highlighted by a reduction in the overall teen birth rate, which decreased 14.6 percent; and a reduction in the birth rate of 15 to 17-year-olds, which decreased by 20 percent. The birth rate among 15 to 19-year-old African-American women decreased by 18.9 percent.

"Illinois is making progress even though births to unwed women across the country are rising," said Linda ReneƩ Baker, secretary of the state Department of Human Services. "I think this honor is a testament to Governor Ryan and the General Assembly for keeping the needs of adolescents in the forefront, as well as the many service providers and professionals who work so hard to give young women the resources they need to make good choices for their lives."

Teen pregnancy is a complex problem that calls for a wide array of community based approaches. Illinois currently spends more than $35 million a year through DHS on programs that prevent teen pregnancy and help adolescents become self-sufficient. Some of the state-funded programs and services include Teen REACH after-school programs, the Abstinence Education Program and the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program. These initiatives promote school success, fight substance abuse and improve access for young people to health services.

The Department also supports the Teen Parent Services program, which is offered to young parents who are enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families - TANF -- or Medicaid. The Teen Parent Services program helps young parents stay in school and obtain a high school diploma so they can become self-sufficient and ease the transition away from TANF.

"Teen pregnancy can result in inadequate education, long-term welfare dependence and missed opportunities. Ensuring a successful transition to adulthood is a key step in promoting self-sufficiency for a life time," added Baker.



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