Cash Payments to Avoid Teen Pregnancy? Great Idea

North Carolina program aiding at-risk kids needs to go nationwide.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

It's not new, but it's newsy. There's a North Carolina program for younger sisters of teen mothers that pays these girls a dollar each day NOT to get pregnant. What a brilliant idea! And why aren't we doing that nationwide?

College Bound Sisters was launched to help protect teen girls in the highest-risk category from getting pregnant and dropping out of school. There are strict eligibility criteria as follows:

  • Is between the ages of 12-16
  • Has a sister who had a baby before age 18
  • Has never been pregnant
  • Wants to attend college
  • Is willing to attend a 1.5 hour meeting each week at [the University of North Carolina-Greensboro]
  • Two groups of girls (one between the ages of 12-14 and the other between 15-18) meet separately each week for 1.5 hours with adult leaders.

    Meetings are held on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro in the School of Nursing and feature food, fun, fellowship, and education. Guest speakers, campus field trips, demonstrations, and an assortment of media covering a wide variety of topics help the program achieve its goals. In addition, quarterly meetings are held with parents of the program participants. These meetings provide a forum for discussion of issues related to adolescent girls.

    One dollar per day for a couple of years is a pittance compared to the costs to society of raising the child of an unwed teen mother. Some info from

    Teen pregnancies cost $9.1 billion annually, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, or around $500,000 for each teen pregnancy for health care and welfare. College Bound Sisters costs just $75,000 a year to operate.

    Opposition to programs such as College Bound Sisters apparently comes from the usual suspects: the abstinence-only crowd doesn't want these girls taught biologically-accurate sex education. Others, according to, object to paying girls to do what's in their own self interest. The problem with that argument is, we pay for the children of unwed teen moms whether we want to or not. And we pay a lot, lot more than a dollar per day per girl for a couple of years.

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