- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2001

The District is one of three jurisdictions in the country to win $25 million in federal bonuses for reducing its rates of out-of-wedlock births without increasing its rates of abortion. Alabama and Michigan also received the bonus.
This was the third round of bonuses issued since the enactment of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law, and the third time the District, Alabama and Michigan were in the winner's circle.
This is the first year, however, that fewer than five jurisdictions were eligible for the bonuses.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson last week praised this year's winners, noting that reducing unwed births "helps families become self-sufficient" and provides "bright futures for their children."
"These awards are yet another way for us to help states encourage marriage and the formation of stable families and to improve the quality of life for children," said Wade F. Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families.
The $100 million-a-year bonus is awarded jointly to as many as five jurisdictions that demonstrate the largest reductions in unwed-birth rates without increasing abortion rates.
If five jurisdictions win, they each get $20 million. If fewer win, they each get $25 million. The bonus money can be used for any purpose by the winners.
This year's bonuses compared birth and abortion data from 1996-1997 and 1998-1999.
The District, with 3.976 percent, saw the largest decline in its unwed-birth rate. Alabama's rate fell by 0.249 percent, and Michigan's fell by 0.009 percent.
"We're very excited," said Ron Lewis, senior deputy for health promotion in the D.C. Department of Health.
"This is about aggressive outreach and getting out the message in public education," he said, crediting the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services for their work with teen pregnancy prevention initiatives.
Bonus money in past years has gone toward further funding of such initiatives.
In the first round of bonuses, issued in 1999, 12 jurisdictions including Virginia and Maryland had reduced their unwed-birth rates. The winners that year were California, the District, Michigan, Alabama and Massachusetts.
In the second round, Arizona and Illinois received bonuses along with the District, Alabama and Michigan.
This year, 48 states saw increases in their unwed-birth rates, making them ineligible for a bonus. Virginia's unwed-birth rate climbed 2.3 percent, making it the 18th highest in the country. Maryland's rate climbed 3.3 percent, ranking it the 33rd highest.

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