A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Annual Report 1997-98. Appendix II. Measuring the Proportion of Communities With Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs


Measuring the Proportion of Communities with Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Recent declines in the teen birth rate, and indications of further declines in the teen pregnancy rate, suggest that the numerous public- and private-sector efforts across the country to prevent teen pregnancy are having a positive impact. Measuring all the factors that help adolescents postpone premature sexual activity and avoid pregnancy is difficult, however, since individual, family, and community characteristics are all influential. Nevertheless, measuring the total proportion of communities that have at least one teen pregnancy prevention program in place (estimated by dividing the number of such communities by the number of communities in the United States) provides a rough sense of how many communities are responding to this problem with specific, targeted prevention efforts. In 1995, at least 30 percent of communities had HHS-supported teen pregnancy prevention and related programs.

To develop a sound, albeit conservative, estimate of the proportion of communities with teen pregnancy prevention programs, the estimate includes only those programs supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS-supported programs that include teen pregnancy prevention services as a component are diverse, ranging from comprehensive health and social services to substance abuse treatment and HIV prevention education. In this report, the number of teen pregnancy prevention programs funded by HHS includes those programs funded in the years FY 1996 and FY 1997 (including the latest year for which complete information on grants awarded is available).

To determine how many communities have at least one program, the location of each program was identified based on the site of the services provided and/or the location of the grant recipient. Any individual community with more than one program was counted only once. The estimate excludes HHS funding provided directly to states (e.g., Medicaid, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant) which states may use to fund activities in multiple communities.

Since there is no single standard definition for community in the United States, the estimate uses a definition of community based on areas identified by the Commerce Department's Bureau of the Census. This definition includes all incorporated places with a population of 10,000 individuals or more (2,673) and all counties where, excluding these incorporated places, the remaining population reaches 10,000 or more (2,079), for a total of 4,752 communities. Under this definition, for example, Montgomery County, Maryland would consist of four communities, including three incorporated places of 10,000 or more inhabitants (Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Takoma Park) and one community representing the balance of the county's population, which exceeds 10,000.

Using the above calculations, the resulting estimate of the proportion of communities in the United States with HHS-supported teen pregnancy prevention and related programs is at least 30 percent for FY 1996 and at least 31 percent for FY 1997. In FY 1996, there were programs in about 1450 communities across the country, and in FY 1997, there were programs in about 1470 communities.