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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 8, 2000


I am very encouraged by new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that teen birth rates in the United States have reached their lowest level since record keeping began 60 years ago. These preliminary data for 1999 show that birth rates among 15 to 19 year-olds dropped 3 percent from the previous year and 20 percent from the most recent peak in 1991.

This new information confirms that we continue to make impressive strides in addressing one of the most important social problems facing our nation. By enacting welfare reform in 1996, taking executive action to require young mothers to stay in school or lose welfare payments, cracking down on child support enforcement, and launching a National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the Clinton-Gore Administration has sent a clear message to young women and young men alike: don't get pregnant or father a child until you are ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood. Working in partnership with states, communities, families, religious leaders, the media, and teens themselves, we have promoted innovative teen pregnancy prevention strategies that have contributed to the historic progress we witness today.

These encouraging trends cut across both younger and older teens, married and unmarried teens, all states, and all racial and ethnic groups. The sharpest decline last year was a six percent drop in the birth rate for American Indian teenagers. And, since 1991, the African American teen birth rate has decreased by 30 percent.

Together, we are helping more young people make responsible choices and delay parenting until they are financially and emotionally ready. However, we still have much to do and I urge all sectors of society to continue their efforts to reduce teen pregnancy even further. To build on our progress in breaking the cycle of dependency, I call on Congress to enact my budget initiative to provide $25 million to support "second chance homes." These adult-supervised, supportive living arrangements for teen parents who cannot live at home offer parenting skills, job counseling, education and other referrals that help reduce repeat pregnancies and improve the prospects for young mothers and their children.