A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Annual Report 1998-99. Abstinence Education


The Department funds abstinence education through two programs. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) created a new program entitled the Abstinence Education Grant Program which is funded under Section 510 of Title V of the Social Security Act. The grants funded under this program must meet specific criteria defined in the legislation. In addition, the Department has been funding abstinence education through its Adolescent Family Life Program (AFL) since 1981. New AFL programs, initiated since 1997, now also conform to the PRWORA definition of abstinence.

Abstinence Education Grant Program. The Department's Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) is responsible for the administration of the Abstinence Education Grant Program. The law provides for a mandatory annual appropriation of $50 million for each fiscal year (FY) 1998 through 2002. Fifty-two states and territories applied for and received FY 1999 funding (one less than in FY 1998).

In March 1999, MCHB completed an annual program summary based on the states and territories' FY 1998 annual reports and FY 1999 grant applications. Multiple activities and contracts are being funded in the majority of states and territories. Thus, the following totals exceed the total number of states and territories (54) that received an FY 1998 and/or FY 1999 Abstinence Education Grant. While states and territories differed in their approaches, there were some general consistencies.

  • The most frequently funded state/territory activities are communitybased projects (451), program evaluations (41), state media campaigns (37), and technical assistance and training (36).
  • The most frequently funded local program activities are adult mentoring, counseling and supervision (32), social skills instruction, characterbased education, and assets building (31), curriculum development and implementation (31), schoolbased programs (26), public awareness campaigns (24), parent education groups (21), peer mentoring and education (20), and before and afterschool programs (18).
  • The two age groups most frequently served by the states and territories are 1314 year olds (51) and 912 year olds (50). Other frequently served age groups are 1517 year olds (37) and 1819 year olds (26).
  • Special population groups frequently targeted by the states/territories are parents (39), atrisk populations, such as youth of color, outofschool youths, and youths in areas with high rates of outofwedlock pregnancies (26), males (25), and teachers and youth serving professionals (20).

Adolescent Family Life Program (AFL). As mentioned earlier, the AFL program's prevention approach, as required by statute, has always been abstinence-based; promoting the postponement of sexual activity as the most effective way for adolescents to prevent pregnancy and STD/HIV infection. In FY 1998, $9.0 million of the total $16.7 million AFL appropriation was spent to support 57 prevention projects using the abstinence-only definition under PRWORA. An additional $3.6 million was spent to continue support for 17 prevention and care projects originally funded in FY 1995 and $1.0 million to support seven research projects. Many address self-esteem and decision-making, life, social, and negotiation skills. Specific components for parent involvement and education are incorporated by most and all are required to include an independent evaluation.