Recent declines in the teen birth rate, and indications of further declines in the teen pregnancy rate, suggest that the numerous public and privatesector efforts across the country to prevent teen pregnancy are having a positive impact. Measuring all 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 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 1997, at least 31 percent of communities had HHSsupported teen pregnancy prevention and related programs.
To develop a sound, albeit conservative, estimate of this proportion, the estimate includes only those programs supported by HHS. HHSsupported programs which 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 year FY 1998 (including the latest year for which complete information on grants awarded is available).
To determine the number of communities with 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. A 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 these calculations, the resulting estimate of the proportion of communities in the United States with HHSsupported teen pregnancy prevention and related programs is at least 34 percent for FY 1998. This proportion represents about 1616 communities across the country.