A National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy: Annual Report 1997-98. Building Partnerships

Building partnerships is a critical aspect of the Department's National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The Department seeks to build partnerships among all concerned citizens: national, state, and local organizations; schools; health and social services; business; religious institutions; Federal, state, and local governments; tribes and tribal organizations; parents; other family members; and adolescents. Our goal is to build new partnerships that promote communities' efforts to prevent teen pregnancy, and strengthen and broaden existing partnerships. Since the Strategy was released in January 1997, the Department has initiated a broad partnership-building process.

Value. Those involved in the prevention of teen pregnancy, violence, alcohol and drug use, and other complex social problems have recognized the value of involving a variety of community institutions and creatively mobilizing community-wide resources. Many government and private funders interested in reducing duplication, increasing cooperation, and leveraging resources have required collaborative approaches to programs in health and human services, housing, justice, and the environment. Partnerships help pool resources, share risks, and increase efficiency. They also integrate and coordinate services to help build communities.

Challenges. Partnerships, particularly at the community-level, take a long time to establish and require considerable energy to maintain. They demand skilled staffing and support to be managed successfully. Establishing true community consensus on controversial issues is a difficult, time-intensive process. Collaboration is particularly challenging when partners come from different racial, ethnic, linguistic, class and/or educational backgrounds-yet it is exactly this cross-sectional involvement that is the most valuable product of collaboration.

Community Partnerships

HHS is working collaboratively to provide useful information to community members who are working to prevent teen pregnancy. The following are highlights of our efforts to build and strengthen partnerships within communities and provide technical assistance to communities for their own partnership development.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Tool-Kit. Together with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, HHS is preparing a tool-kit for states and communities on teen pregnancy prevention. This tool-kit will:

  • Provide readers with practical, relevant advice and program examples that explain and demonstrate how to initiate and strengthen a wide range of teen pregnancy prevention activities.
  • Focus on such areas as community organizing, state and local needs, and building long-term support for teen pregnancy prevention through the support of youth, the business sector, the faith community, and others.
  • Have a section in each chapter pointing the reader to further resources.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Tool-Kit is expected to be completed in late 1998 or early 1999.

Strategy for Boys and Young Men. Another effort is the development of a strategy to disseminate information to state and community leaders on prevention programs for boys and young men. This project will involve:

  • Consulting with public officials and representatives of key national organizations to identify information needs.
  • Reviewing material on prevention and abstinence programs.
  • Developing an information packet for state and local decision makers.
  • Testing the information packet and regional roundtable format to disseminate information.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the Office of Population Affairs (OPA), and the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) are collaborating on this project, expected to be completed in late spring of 1999.

Funding Promising Approaches. The Department is funding grants in two areas where partnerships are a critical component. These partnerships are briefly described below; more details about the entire effort are included in the section entitled "Supporting Promising Approaches."

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Coalition Partnership Programs for the Prevention of Teen Pregnancy supports demonstration grants for the prevention of teen pregnancies in thirteen communities in eleven states. Coalitions of local public and private agencies and organizations in communities with high rates of teen pregnancy have been working over the last two years, with CDC financial and technical support, to develop community action plans, coordinate efforts to reduce teen pregnancy, identify gaps in current programs and services, target existing resources, and design evaluation plans.
  • Girl Neighborhood Power!-Building Bright Futures for Success (GNP) is challenging America's communities to become active partners in assisting 9- to 14-year-old girls to successfully navigate adolescence and achieve maximum potential. GNP, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration, is implemented nationally by Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) and by four community-based partners. (See page 16 for a more detailed description of this effort.)

HHS Partnerships

Along with providing support and information to communities, building and sustaining partnerships is a critical task of the Department. Partnership development is performed throughout the Department, and focuses on many activities related to youth. Highlights of partnership efforts that have occurred over the past year include:

A Working Meeting with National Organizations. This meeting, held on July 29, 1997, sought to strengthen the collective efforts of HHS, other Federal agencies, and national organizations in reducing early childbearing and building real opportunities for youth. In addition to working sessions on the key components of the National Strategy, the day was spent discussing strategic alliances and/or partnerships among multiple sectors. Discussion focused on examples of effective teen pregnancy prevention partnerships and how these partnerships served as useful vehicles for pregnancy prevention activities. Barriers, successful approaches to overcoming these barriers, and sustaining partnerships were also discussed. One workshop helped the partners understand the importance of good, reliable data for evaluating programs and interpreting trends.

Joint Work Group on School-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention. A group of national, nongovernmental organizations are working together with HHS to explore the role that state and local education and health policymakers, administrators, and school personnel can play in preventing teen pregnancy. These organizations include the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the National Education Association (NEA), and the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

Convened as the Joint Work Group on School-Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention, these organizations seek to develop a coordinated plan to assist their respective constituents to develop and implement pregnancy prevention policies and programs. Currently, Work Group members are coordinating formative research efforts to determine the information and technical assistance needs of state and local board members, health and education chiefs, legislators, administrators and school personnel. The Work Group's effort will also will be informed by current research, and by the work of The National Strategy to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and The National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, among others. Financial and technical support for the Work Group is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Girl Power! Campaign. This multiple-phase, multimedia, public education campaign is designed to encourage and empower girls between the ages of 9 and 14 to make the most of their lives. Studies show that girls tend to lose self-confidence and self-worth during this pivotal age, becoming less physically active and neglecting their own interests and aspirations. During these years, girls become more vulnerable to negative outside influences and to mixed messages about risky behaviors.

Girl Power! puts the emphasis on providing opportunities for girls to build skills and self-confidence in academics, arts, sports, and other endeavors. The Girl Power! campaign takes a comprehensive approach, addressing not only a range of health issues, but also the erosion of self confidence, motivation, and opportunity that is all too typical for many girls during the transitional period of 9 to 14 years of age. This campaign is designed to assist girls to develop the tools and sense of self to move forward with their lives in a manner that decreases the likelihood that they will participate in behaviors and health practices that might damage their short and long term potentials.

A number of other initiatives across HHS offices have occurred. SAMHSA has developed generic messages and materials for Girl Power! as well as ones specifically directed at substance abuse prevention. In particular, a new public service announcement featuring Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes was released in May 1998 encouraging young girls to build self-confidence, to keep active, and to make healthy decisions. Girl Power! has already built partnerships with organizations such as the Girl Scouts and has been endorsed by a myriad of nonprofit groups which support the mission of Girl Power!

State and Local Partners. Through its regional offices, HHS has engaged partners at the state and local levels on issues related to adolescents and pregnancy prevention. Several activities at the regional level highlight this role.

  • Region VI (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas), together with co-sponsors from the university and medical communities, and the National Campaign on Teen Pregnancy Prevention, held a satellite conference to address the issues of teen pregnancy prevention in the Hispanic community. The focus of the conference was on building community partnerships-local communities identifying and solving problems. The program included topics such as new ideas on teen pregnancy prevention, the role of adults in building a good society for children, statistical information on trends in teen pregnancy, and developing an effective community sanctioned public awareness message.
  • Region IV (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) has taken a leadership role in teen pregnancy prevention. In collaboration with the Emory University Regional Training Center, the Region has established a project to assist community-based and community-supported activities that focuses on the reduction of teenage pregnancy rates. This grant program is expected to strengthen the partnerships with traditional family planning clinical service providers within an area. The Region is also enhancing community capacities to develop, direct, and evaluate community projects.

    As a supplement to these specific community-based projects, the Region conducts approximately three to four Teen Power workshops per year through various media to large cities throughout the Region, e.g. Columbia, SC, Knoxville, TN, Jackson, MS. These are one-day events with panels of teens, policy makers, public affairs specialists, and local programs and projects engaged in the breadth of issues facing teens.

  • Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) is emphasizing the theme of boys and young men abstaining from sexual activity and postponing fatherhood. This project addresses: the dilemma of unplanned pregnancy; male involvement and child support; the consequences of early childbearing; and public policy and pregnancy prevention. One of this project's first events was a community forum in Chicago where the theme of abstaining from sexual activity and postponing fatherhood was incorporated. Projects and models that address pregnancy prevention were also included. Teen pregnancy prevention workshops were held at the last two annual conferences on runaway and homeless youth.
  • Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington), together with a private, non-profit organization, co-sponsors an annual conference, Advancing Solutions for Adolescent Pregnancy. This conference draws between 200-300 people. The conference presents workshops on pregnancy prevention for both professionals and teens and includes research, best practices, and presentations by teens.