A Resource Guide of Best Practices for Pregnant and Parenting Teen Programs
Improving life outcomes for teen parents and their children is the rationale for interventions and special support services to this population. It is critical to invest energy in primary pregnancy prevention efforts and to reduce the current high number of repeat pregnancies to teen parents.
Intervention services designed to reduce the likelihood of teen pregnancy can be initiated through early identification of children who are often truant, who experience academic failure, and who exhibit other delinquent behaviors.
These behaviors may indicate a child at high risk for adolescent pregnancy. Programs that focus on primary prevention can also prevent repeat pregnancies among teens. The most effective practices include monitoring, intense case management, extended family involvement, career exploration and preparation, multigenerational community recreational activities and service projects.
Each community has a unique disposition regarding adolescent behavior and must determine independently the extent of involvement in prevention efforts. What may be enthusiastically embraced as a project in one community may not be acceptable in another. Respect for diverse opinions and sensitivity to individuals, families and schools are advised when designing community-wide approaches to teen pregnancy prevention.
Following are brief menus of practice, all based on sound developmental principles, which have been employed with some success in different settings. Each of these can be modified and adapted to the receptivity of a particular community. Consult with knowledgeable colleagues before implementing any strategy.
Mobilization of community efforts to reduce teen pregnancy rates does get messages to a larger audience, but at the same time may limit the focus or content of the messages. Finding the common ground can solidify campaigns and is worth the effort. Following are some ways to involve the larger community, choose messages and methods of delivering them, and foster a sense of community responsibility.
Engaging a broad representation of the community in the discussion. Bring all points of view to the table and include: parents; students; community and neighborhood groups; health, education and social service providers; elected officials; and civic and religious leaders.
Convening of focus groups to assess the community's perception of the problem. Different populations or age groups can meet together or separately to pool their opinions. Take care to present the format as nonthreatening and inclusive.
Development of media campaigns using radio, newspapers and local television. Contests can be held to solicit slogans and public service announcements; this will promote involvement and gain public attention.
Linking with local AIDS/STD coalitions and hospital community outreach programs. This can build a broader corps and more resources for prevention campaigns.
Community broadcasting of parenting education using interactive community TV or public access channels.
Collaborating with local prevention coalitions to develop campaigns, share resources and coordinate services. The Pennsylvania Coalition To Prevent Teen Pregnancy offers technical assistance and speakers for coalitions and task forces. They can be reached at (717) 737-4608.
Supporting or initiating a community telephone hotline for youth.
Using existing models whenever possible. There's no need to reinvent! You can customize to suit your needs and population. Advocates For Youth has a good packet of resources for assessing community needs and starting a local coalition.
Consider building on existing local programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Use their screening and training process as a model to start. Share resources, expand existing services or build a collaborative pool of adult mentors.
Solicit volunteers through churches, community groups and school parent/teacher organizations.
Seek male mentors through men's civic groups. For diversity of ethnicity and locale, contacts with neighborhood churches, NAACP and crime watch groups may prove fruitful.
Develop screening and monitoring procedures that assure a resource base of committed and reliable adults.
Use incentives such as mileage reimbursement, discounted or free tickets to activities and tokens of appreciation such as thank-you notes and certificates to validate mentors' dedication.
Include job shadowing or one-on-one youth/adult teaming for one day when ongoing mentoring is not possible.
Recruit a local business or community agency to "adopt" your mentoring project. The employer can offer release time to employees so they can serve as mentors during the school day, over lunch or after school.
Encouraging school districts to examine the sexuality education currently offered in their schools and assess its effectiveness in the context of good health practices can be done respectfully. Facilitating a preview of materials available for sexuality education may be regarded as helpful. Your local intermediate unit may provide such an opportunity to its districts as an in-service option. Collaborating with local AIDS coalitions and regional health departments as well as school nurses and health teachers may be helpful in promoting such a preview.
Curricula that have been well received by students, parents and teachers include but are not limited to the following:
Reducing the Risk (ETR Associates)
Sex Can Wait (ETR Associates)
Postponing Sexual Involvement (ETR Associates)
Values and Choices (ETR Associates)
Teen Outreach (Association of Junior Leagues)
Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy (Girls, Inc.)
Protect Teen Health (Girls, Inc.)
Some good materials also are available to help parents initiate conversations about sexuality with their children. A few suggestions include:
Sex: A Conversation With Sol Gordon (3 videos)
How Can I Tell If I'm Really In Love (video)
First Things First (Planned Parenthood) (audiotape and books)
Intervention for Prevention
The following strategies and techniques are only briefly mentioned here. All have immense value and can have significant impact in primary as well as repeat pregnancy prevention efforts.
Teen Parent Panels
Innovative Tools (Empathy Belly, Baby Think It Over, Prom Promise)
Use of innovative tools to present particular concepts can be effective and especially useful as single lessons or short units. Notification of parents is recommended. Some resources that are easy to use are:
This page is maintained by the Center for Schools and Communities.
last updated April 30, 1999
Center for Schools & Communities