The objective of the evaluation is to assess the impact of the "Teenage Mother Program" designed and implemented by Fundación Juanfe (www.juanfe.org), a non-profit and non-gubermental organization working to improve the quality of life of pregnant teenagers and their offspring. The Program is expected to have a positive impact on the mothers' socio-emotional development (primarily on self-esteem, self-efficacy and aspirations), educational attainment (through vocational training), their employability, their access to sexual and reproductive health services, the quality of their relationship with their children, and their access to nutritional and medical assistance for their children. After almost 8 years of in the field experience, the Organization has identified several sources of vulnerability faced by their beneficiaries: extreme poverty (approximately 80% como from families where the average per capita income is USD $ 0.73 a day and income flows are erratic and mostly come from informal activities); sexual abuse (approximately 30% of the beneficiaries have been victims of sexual violence at some point in their lives); gender-based violence (all beneficiaries have been victims of various forms of gender-based violence); and low human capital (frequently girls end up dropping out of school to avoid shame and stigma of being pregnant). Rather than blaming the teenager, the Program targets the risk factors that led to early life pregnancy in the first place: lack of education, poverty, emotional instability, and gender discrimination, among others.
The impact evaluation study is based on a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design at the individual level. The study was designed and is being implemented by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and Universidad de los Andes. The experimental sample for the ongoing RCT has been constructed using an excess demand methodology. Given that the Program's selection process is based on an open call where applicants have to go through three different filters (cognitive tests, emotional tests and a face to face interview), to avoid salient selection biases in our impact estimates the control and treatment groups were constructed from the universe of individuals that were deemed as eligible. Therefore, the experimental sample resulted from the excess demand generated during the admissions process of the two cohorts of 2016. The objective was to have 600 teenage mothers that were eligible to the Program: 300 randomly selected to the control group (150 from the first cohort, 150 from the second) and 300 randomly selected to the treatment group (150 from the first cohort, 150 from the second).
The study comprises four measurements: baseline (before the implementation begins), a short term follow-up (6 months after baseline), a medium term follow-up (14 months) and long term follow-up-up (24 months after) follow-up studies are not guaranteed. The primary goal is to determine the treatment effect on both teenage mothers and their children, particularly on these dimensions: mothers subsequent pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health, educational attainment and labor market insertion; as well as in child nutrition, health and development.
The evaluation will provide policy guidance in regards to evidence-based intervention models that might assist vulnerable youth populations in their insertion into the labor market. Given the negative impacts of early motherhood and unplanned pregnancy on the general wellbeing of women and their offspring, the dynamics of teenage pregnancy is a central issue on the agenda of policy makers in the social, education and health sectors. Although general indicators of teenage pregnancy in Colombia show positive dynamics, there is huge variation across regions and a worrisome concentration of this phenomenon in particular municipalities of the Country. According to the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, between 2011 and 2014 the national teenage fertility rate (born alive per 1000 women between 15 and 19 years old) dropped from 58.9 to 51.7, while in some municipalities the opposite trend is observed. For instance, Cartagena (the city where the organization operates) is one of the cities with the highest incidence of teenage pregnancy: the city is in the fourth place in the ranking of all urban regions in Colombia. Moreover, the department of Bolivar (which circumscribes Cartagena) has an average fertility rate that is 10 percentage points above the national average.