Maternity Homes

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maternity homes

Residences for pregnant women. The number of homes has decreased over the past two decades, and existing homes often have a waiting list of women. In the mid-1960s, there were about 300 maternity homes nationwide, many of which could serve large numbers of clients. By 1981, because of the decriminalization of abortion, availability of the birth control pill and other changes in society, there were only about 100, according to the Interagency Task Force on Adoption's report, America's Waiting Children.

Some organizations have recruited families who volunteer to house women in crisis pregnancies, but these are usually not licensed and are not included in the estimates.

The women who live in a maternity home usually pay no fee to live in the home and they often apply for public assistance and medicaid payments to cover their medical costs.

Women who use maternity homes may be adults or adolescents. They may also be teenage foster children who are wards of the court, if the maternity home has a license for group foster care.

The services provided by a maternity home usually include counseling, aid in applying for public assistance programs such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), food stamps and Medicaid, nutritional advice and encouragement and assistance in continuing education or identifying career opportunities.

Most maternity homes utilize volunteers who will drive women to the physician, supermarket, welfare office and other sites where she must go.

Organizations such as the NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR ADOPTION support the voucher system concept whereby women with crisis pregnancies can choose the appropriate shelter for themselves and pay for services with the vouchers. California has had such a plan in place for more than 20 years, the Pregnancy Freedom of Choice Act. At the federal level, similar plans have been proposed by former Senators Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) and Dan Corts (R-Ind.). The NCFA believes more maternity homes would open if such laws were passed. (See also CRISIS PREGNANCY.)

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