Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN)

About This Program

Target Population: Pregnant and parenting teen wards of the state between the ages of 13 and 21 years old and their children up to age of 8 years old

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 8, 13 – 21

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 8, 13 – 21

Program Overview

The Teen Parenting Service Network (TSPN), a part of UCAN, ensures and manages the quality of service provided to teens/young adult parents who are wards of the State of Illinois and their children. Legislation defines the legal rights and provides for community-based programs and services for all pregnant and parenting teens who are wards of the State, including placements, education, day care, independent living programs, and health care. TPSN monitors and provides programmatic support to case management, placement, and parenting specialty agencies which provide services to this population. Additionally, the network provides an array of supportive and direct services to meet their complex needs.

Program Goals

The goals of Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN) are:

  • Serve a diverse and evolving population through cutting edge services:
    • Offer creative programs that are research-informed
    • Develop "Creative Programming" and materials that can be accessed statewide
    • Evaluate data requests to determine trends and inform the continuous improvement of the data system
    • Enhance service delivery through the utilization of social media and other technology
    • Examine the impact of giving young mothers support throughout pregnancy as well as during and after the birthing process by developing and implementing the Doula Service Pilot program
  • Prepare young people for mastering parenting by having them utilize healthy parenting practices:
    • Mediate risk and track this by using the Adult and Adolescent Planning Inventory (AAPI) with teen parents
    • Ensure the well-being of clients' 3- to 5-year old children by helping the parents get the children enrolled in Early Childhood Education programs
    • Ensure the well-being of clients' new babies by helping them have access to obtain a complete developmental screening within the first year of life
  • Expand TPSN and develop equitable services statewide through collaboration with community agencies:
    • Form a statewide workgroup to determine what the TPSN model might look like statewide
  • Value the role of males in the family by encouraging males to actively and consistently parent their children:
    • Create a forum for male parents to define what being a father means to them
    • Write operational definitions for "active and consistent" parenting and develop a measure to track it
    • Form an external Male Engagement Advisory Group that consists of community members who are fathers or who have experience engaging young fathers
  • Break barriers to school success and employment by preparing the clients for independence as evidenced by increased educational achievement and employment:
    • Ensure that teen parents/young adults are in school, have achieved their High School diploma/GED, or are employed at least part-time
    • Improve data reliability and efficiency of collection as evidenced by obtaining the education and employment data for clients

Logic Model

The program representative did not provide information about a Logic Model for Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN).

Essential Components

The essential components of the Teen Pregnancy Services Network (TPSN) include:

  • Risk management: When particular risks are flagged, the case is examined thoroughly to ensure the client and the young family's needs are met and link the young family to services. The identified risk factor is matched with a supportive service to help mitigate that risk.
  • Case consultation and coordination: Problem solving cases where there are barriers is facilitated by bringing together a multi-disciplinary team to discuss individual and systemic issues that impact the client's ability to move forward. TPSN uses a clinical philosophy as a lens to understand client's situations and find solutions. The tenets of the philosophy include understanding how trauma, attachment, development, and systems theory impact the life of the case.
  • Data that informs practice: TPSN maintains the data on over 1,000 young parents and their children through data collection and intake. The network uses data to examine trends to understand the population and divert resources appropriately. Quality improvement initiatives have been introduced to ensure practice meets policy requirements and that best practices are used.
  • Training: A Specialty Training series that highlights issues related to young families and the system in relation to parenting has been developed. The series includes training on the following areas:
    • Domestic Violence
    • Education
    • Developing effective helping relationships
    • Substance Abuse
    • Facilitating multidisciplinary teams
    • Preparation for Parenthood
    • Community Mapping (Eco-Map)
    • Mental Health
    • Early Childhood Education
    • Discharge/Emancipation Planning
    • Compassion Fatigue
  • Young family preservation: TPSN addresses the unique needs of pregnant and parenting youth in care who have experienced long-term exposure to trauma and/or violence. The program is grounded in current research regarding the developmental and neurophysiological effects of trauma. TPSN Clinical Intervention and Education Services utilize a systemic, integrated, and home-based/community approach to service delivery. The success of any trauma treatment program is contingent upon the ability of treatment to address the presenting concerns in a way that allows the client to metabolize traumatic material and integrate the effects of exposure to trauma which remain fragmented. By remaining accessible to clients (regardless of their current level of stability) and helping them develop more effective coping skills, the Clinical Intervention and Educational Support staff successfully guide youth toward healthier interpersonal, familial, and community connections. TPSN recognizes that the population served can often be difficult to reach and retain in services. For this reason, direct service providers have received extensive training in developing engagement skills. Research shows that increased client retention occurs when service providers have a plan for how they are going to engage the client. These services were designed to increase the clients' levels of functioning by assisting them in coping with the effects of trauma, "making meaning" of their trauma histories, and increasing their overall level of functioning.
  • The following services are provided in Cook County and surrounding counties. Those services which are available statewide are marked with an asterisk. These services are typically provided via phone consultation.
    • Clinical Consultants* collaborate with case management teams and other pertinent service providers or personal supports in order to coordinate services, provide clinical and case management recommendations, and provide relevant resources and referrals. Consultants are extensively trained on the trauma-related issues impacting pregnant/parenting wards and share their knowledge and expertise with others working with this population. Clinical consultation can be provided in person at staffings/meetings or via phone. Although consultants may have contact with clients, this is not a direct service.
    • Clinical Therapists are specifically trained in the use of creative, expressive, and body-centered approaches. Therapy is less focused on asking clients to tell and re-tell their histories of trauma and more on engaging the client and helping them learn other ways to effectively communicate the issues that may cause or have caused them pain. Therapists seek to identify the effects of fragmented and unprocessed trauma as it manifests in the daily lives of TPSN clients. Through individual treatment planning based upon client needs, therapists may choose to use art, music, imagery, writing, movement, play, and talk to address the effects of exposure to trauma.
    • Coordinators of Program Development* are used to monitor the quality of services provided to TPSN clients and their children who are served by case management or placement agencies who specialize in working with pregnant and parenting wards. The Coordinators offer programmatic support and consultation. They collaborate with DCFS, Pregnant and Parenting Specialty Programs, and community resources to ensure appropriate services and policy & procedural changes are in place to better serve clients.
    • Family Support Specialists (FSS) provide one-on-one parenting instruction using a clinical model and curriculum that focuses on bonding and attachment as a parenting task. Most youth who have experienced abuse and neglect suffer damage in their attachment with one or both of their biological parents which is exacerbated by being placed in substitute care. Consequently, teen parents are at risk for repeating unhealthy patterns of parenting and creating underdeveloped attachments with their own children. Parenting coaching includes developmentally appropriate discipline, basic baby care, child development, bonding/attachment, appropriate day care selection, health (of mother and child), safe sleeping arrangements, and other safety related concerns. FSS staff also completes a New Birth Assessment (NBA) for each pregnancy and birth. The NBA includes completion of the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) and AAPI assessments.
    • Client Location Monitoring (CLM) consists of a trauma-trained professional who aids caseworkers in conducting advanced search efforts and establishing and restoring trusting relationships with clients who have runaway from placement. Although the CLM professional has some contact with clients, this is considered a supportive service.
    • Educational Mentors are trauma-trained paraprofessionals who assist in meeting educational and vocational needs of clients as well as teach independent living skills in preparation for emancipation. Mentors support clients in meeting treatment goals by addressing the goal from more creative and activity-based angles.
    • Educational/Vocational Liaisons* provide consultation relating to education, employment, and/or emancipation to the client, caseworker, and service team. Services include identifying local schools and vocational programs, assistance with the DCFS Youth in College program, Educational Training Voucher (ETV) Funds or financial aid, preparation for employment including help with resume writing and interview preparation, location of job fairs/community resources, and emancipation preparation. Although Liaisons may have contact with clients, this is considered a supportive service.
    • Group Services are designed and facilitated by Clinical Intervention and Education Services workers to raise the level of self-esteem, increase the awareness of the impact of trauma, and enhance parenting skills amongst the teen and young adult parents. Clients are challenged to explore how they present themselves and to embrace their strengths. Workshops may address holistic self-care, goal setting, and skill building. Groups include the following subjects:
      • Real Talk®: Self-esteem and self-awareness
      • Real Talent®: Self-esteem via creativity and empowerment through art mediums
      • Real Literacy: Promotes literacy and early learning
      • Baby University®: Teaches young parents about childhood development, reading, bonding, nutrition, safety, and learning through play.
      • Youth Advisory Board: Leadership development

Program Delivery

Child/Adolescent Services

Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN) directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

  • 13-21 year olds: Pregnant or teen parents. Upcoming emancipation from the child welfare system is a major problem as the clients typically enter the network at 18 years old. Other possible problems include: Placement issues, behind in education, high risk, family issues, mental illness, trauma history, lack of employment. 0-8 years old: Children of teen parents

Parent/Caregiver Services

Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN) directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

  • Teen parents and lack of skills to care for their child(ren), trauma history, lack of employment, behind in education, mental illness
Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Utilizing the system’s lens of our clinical philosophy, we serve young families, not individuals. We believe that anyone who is a support to the young family should be involved in the service delivery. This includes paramours, the other parent(s), caregivers, previous caregivers, family, friends, etc. This is very important because when biological families and extended supports are involved during emancipation preparation, clients are more likely to be successful.

Recommended Intensity:

For specialized case management, the caseworker is required to visit with the client two times each month for at least five hours overall. Two contacts with the caregiver, with one being in person for at least thirty minutes, are also required. All case management agencies contracted through the Department of Family Services are required to meet with clients once per month.

Recommended Duration:

Clients enter the Network when they become pregnant and typically continue to receive services until they emancipate when they turn 21.

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Community Daily Living Setting
  • Foster / Kinship Care
  • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
  • Group or Residential Care
  • School Setting (Including: Day Care, Day Treatment Programs, etc.)


This program does not include a homework component.


Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN) has materials available in a language other than English:


For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

  • Teen Parenting Wards of the State of Illinois
  • Approximately 35 dedicated personnel
  • $5 million annual investment from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
  • Strong infrastructure
  • Shared data management system
  • Existing community resources
  • Expertise in child welfare service delivery
  • Expertise with population

Manuals and Training

Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

Caseworkers are required to have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree. Supervisors are required to have a Master's degree in a related field.

Manual Information

There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

Training Information

There is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training Type/Location:

Specialty Training for pregnant and parenting service providers is offered as a blended curriculum (both in person and online). It is offered twice a year, once in Cook County and once in downstate Illinois.

Number of days/hours:

Approximately 40 hours.

Additional Resources:

There currently are additional qualified resources for training:

Victor Bernstein (Erickson Institute and the University of Chicago)
Ron Rooney (University of Minnesota)
Jeff Levy (and associates) from Live Oak
Dr. Jacqueline Vincson (Indiana University)

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Teen Parenting Service Network (TPSN).

Additional References

Dworsky, A. L., & DeCoursey, J. (2009). Pregnant and parenting foster youth: Their needs, their experiences. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Dworsky, A., & Wojnaroski, M. (2012). An evaluation of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services New Birth Assessment. Chicago: Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

Love, L. T. (2005). Fostering hope: Preventing teen pregnancy among youth in foster care. National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Contact Information

Andrea Chua, MSW
Agency/Affiliation: UCAN-Teen Parenting Service Network
Website: www.ucanchicago.org/our-programs/building-strong-families
Phone: (773) 588-5627
Fax: (773) 588-5386

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: July 2014

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: March 2013

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2013