Building partnerships among all concerned citizens is essential to preventing teen pregnancy, which President Clinton has described as "our most serious social problem." Tackling this problem will require a comprehensive, focused, and sustained effort from all sectors of society. Therefore, HHS will initiate a broad partnership-building process to implement the national strategy and to solicit nationwide commitment and involvement in the goal of preventing out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies. The feedback from this process will allow us to refine the national strategy as well as to improve our ongoing efforts. By building partnerships among national, state, and local organizations; schools; health and social services; businesses; religious institutions; federal, state and local governments; tribes and tribal organizations; parents; and adolescents, we will be able to unite in our efforts to send a strong message of abstinence and personal responsibility to young people and to provide them with opportunities for the future.
An important partner in this effort will be the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. In his January 1995 State of the Union Address, President Clinton challenged "parents and leaders all across this country to join together in a national campaign against teen pregnancy to make a difference." A group of prominent Americans responded to that challenge, forming the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy ("Campaign"). The President has pledged the help of the Executive Branch in this non-partisan, private-sector effort.
The mission of the Campaign is to prevent teen pregnancy by supporting the values and stimulating actions that are consistent with a pregnancy-free adolescence. The Campaign is designed to support the efforts of local communities and to make sure that local community efforts are based on research about what works. The Campaign is helping to build partnerships with the media, the business sector, and others, and HHS looks forward to working with the Campaign in implementing the national strategy.
The strategy will also include a partnership effort with federal, state, and community organizations that work on behalf of teenagers with disabilities. Teens with learning disabilities, mental retardation, mental illness, and physical disabilities present a unique set of challenges in preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Mainstream programs can be highly effective, but the unique characteristics of teenagers with disabilities also must be taken into account in developing and implementing these programs. As part of the national strategy, HHS will work to address the special challenges in preventing out-of-wedlock teen pregnancies among young men and women with disabilities. The strategy will address issues such as program access, the need for targeted materials, and opportunities for education and skills-building to give teens with disabilities a positive future and a better chance of avoiding teen pregnancy.