Partnership building is gaining momentum across the country, as local communities work together toward building more sustainable supports for children, youth and families. From the start, partnership building has been a cornerstone of the Department's National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Out of these coalitions and collaborations, prevention efforts can be created with the resources and contribution of all key stakeholders in a community. Because research tells us that youth reared in the most supportive, nurturing environments are least likely to engage in behavior that leads to teen pregnancy, this building of sustainable partnerships for youth development is key to reducing the teen birth rate.
HHS partnerships involve national, state, and local organizations; schools; health and social service organizations; community-based organizations; business; religious institutions; tribes and tribal organizations; federal, state, and local governments; parents and other family members; and teens themselves. At HHS, we recognize that building these partnerships is not a simple task, that it takes considerable time, energy, effort, and commitment. Continuing energy and commitment are necessary to sustain these partnerships over time. The payoff in the integration of services, pooling of resources, and the building of community is significant, given the considerable challenges that must be addressed some common and some unique to each community. Barriers to collaboration include differences in racial, ethnic, linguistic, religious, class and/or educational backgrounds. Collaboration can best be accomplished when partners are able to align on a common goal.
The following highlight and update HHS' efforts to build and strengthen partnerships in communities across the country this past year.
Get Organized: A Guide to Preventing Teen Pregnancy. This three-volume guide for states and communities to use in their fight against teen pregnancy was developed in partnership with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy a private nonprofit, nonpartisan organization formed in response to the President's 1995 State of the Union challenge to parents and leaders across the country to come together in a national effort to reduce teen pregnancy. In October 1999, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and Campaign President Isabel Sawhill announced the release of this comprehensive guide. The Secretary noted that although the teen pregnancy rate is declining, four out of 10 girls become pregnant before they are 20 years old, with some girls having multiple births during their teen years. She emphasized the critical importance of promoting prevention and providing guidance to young people.
"Get Organized" stresses a long-term, localized approach to teen pregnancy prevention, with careful evaluation plans built into prevention efforts. Chapters in the Guide cover: "Promising Approaches", "Involving Teen Boys and Young Men", "Involving Parents", "Involving the Faith Community", "Involving Health Care Professionals", and "Involving the Business Community." Other chapters address issues that often challenge community leaders in their efforts to prevent teen pregnancy such as: how to conduct a community needs assessment, how to raise funds for prevention programs, how to create an effective teen pregnancy prevention message, and how to move forward in the face of conflict.
The Guide is available in hard copy, for a nominal fee, from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (http://www.teenpregnancy.org). Early in 2000, the Department made the guide available at no cost through the HHS website. The guide can be found and downloaded at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/hspyoung.htm#teenpreg.
The Girl Power! Campaign. Girl Power! is a national public education campaign to help encourage and motivate 9- to 14-year-old girls. Multiple and varied partnerships have been part of Girl Power! since it started in 1996, helping to accomplish its goal of empowering girls to reach their full potential. Studies show that girls at this age have a tendency to lose self-confidence and self-worth. During this critical phase, many girls become less physically active, perform less well in school, and neglect their own interests and aspirations. Girls become more vulnerable to negative outside influences and to mixed messages about risky behaviors during these years. The Girl Power! Campaign focuses on increasing skills and competence in academics, arts, sports, and other beneficial activities. Encouraging girls to develop their skills and sense of self is one way to ensure they will make healthier choices for their lives.
New products of the Girl Power! Campaign include a Community Education Kit featuring resources for Girl Power! programs and "BodyWise," an information packet for middle school educators focused on eating disorders. The Community Education Kit is designed for use by coaches, teachers, business leaders and other caring adults who are helping girls make the most of their lives. The kit was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. The kit can be previewed and downloaded from the Girl Power! web site at http://www.health.org/gpower. Individual components or the entire kit can also be ordered by calling SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.
"We want to tell every parent and every caring adult to listen to girls, to encourage them, to help them set high standards, and to provide them with opportunities," said Secretary Shalala in April 2000, when the kit was released. "The Community Education Kit will help everyone who works with girls create programs with the message that girls have the right to be the best they can be confident, fulfilled, and true to themselves."
Since the Girl Power! campaign was launched in 1996, its goals have been to provide accurate health information and positive messages to girls and their caregivers; to raise public awareness about substance abuse and risky behaviors; to help girls develop the skills they need to resist unhealthy influences and make positive choices; and to support girls and the adults who care about them. The campaign also challenges caring adults to reach out to young girls at this transitional age when they are forming their values and attitudes and help them pursue opportunities to build skills and self-esteem through sports, academics, the arts and other endeavors.
Girl Power!, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with leadership from the Office of the Secretary, the Office on Women's Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention has partnered with more than 5,000 community-based programs and organizations, including more than 60 national endorsing organizations and 300 state and local affiliations, to develop and implement unique Campaign promotional materials, public service announcements, and an award-winning web site (http://www.health.org/gpower). The Girl Power! web site has received more than 29 million "hits" since its inception at the end of 1996; the average web visitor stays more than nine minutes at the site. Another component of this effort is "Girl Neighborhood Power! Building Bright Futures for Success," described in the "Supporting Promising Approaches" chapter of this document.
Joint Work Group on School-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Adolescent and School Health supports nine national associations in their work helping state and local education staff, health policy makers, school administrators, maternal and child health professionals, school health professionals, and other school personnel prevent teen pregnancies. The nine national, non-governmental organizations are the American Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, American School Health Association, American Association of School Administrators,* Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Conference of State Legislatures, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association.
Note: * The American Association of School Administrators was previously funded by CDC; however, this organization no longer receives funding.
After two years of gathering information about the needs of their respective groups, Joint Work Group members are coordinating efforts to motivate and assist these groups in developing and implementing school-based teen pregnancy prevention policies and programs. This year, the Joint Work Group will provide on-site, customized technical assistance for three competitively selected states that convene teams composed of state and local education and health policymakers, administrators, and other school personnel. Technical assistance will include development, implementation, or expansion of state action plans to build team members' capacity to address school-based teen pregnancy prevention policies and programs, and to develop partnerships with local communities. Technical assistance activities include support for:
- Funding and resources for teen pregnancy prevention.
- Partnerships among schools, communities and families.
- Collaboration between state and local organizations.
- Schools, youth development, and teen pregnancy prevention.
- Evaluating the impact of teen pregnancy on academic achievement.
- Developing social marketing strategies.
- Evaluating teen pregnancy prevention programs and policies.
In the year following technical assistance training, the Joint Work Group will compile reports to be shared with state team leaders and will communicate with state leaders to discuss progress and identify additional needs. Technical assistance activities will be expanded to additional states in subsequent years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Community Coalition Partnership Programs for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy. With support from and in partnership with CDC, 13 communities with high rates of teen pregnancy are working to reduce these rates. The 13 demonstration projects began in 1995. Currently in the second phase, these coalitions of local public and private agencies and community organizations are implementing action plans, testing promising interventions, building financial and programmatic sustainability, and conducting site-specific evaluations. CDC will be working with these innovative communities for the next several years. Further details about the promising approaches and evaluation efforts of this program are discussed later in this report.
The Indian Health Service (IHS). As a direct care organization, IHS has traditionally focused on services related to teen pregnancy, such as appropriate prenatal and neonatal care. IHS continues to increase its work in partnership with federal, state, and local organizations to develop and implement strategies that deal with all issues surrounding teen parenthood, including prevention.