Date: January 23rd, 2018
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) announced on January 12, 2018 the Anticipated Availability of Funds for Support for Expectant and Parenting Teens, Women, Fathers, and Their Families (AH-SP1-18-001). These grant funds are being made available through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund (PAF) program.
Previous PAF cohorts have made great strides in supporting and empowering young people who are pregnant or parenting to thrive. PAF is the sole federal program to prioritize this population. Healthy Teen Network encourages all eligible applicants to submit applications for PAF program funds. However, it is important to note that are some substantive differences in the 2018 FOA, when compared to previous PAF FOAs.
Eligible Applicants: Any state, which includes the District of Columbia, any commonwealth possession, or other territory of the United States, and any Federally-recognized Indian Tribe, reservation, or consortium or council, is eligible to apply for a grant under this announcement.
Deadline: Applications are due April 12, 2018, 6:00PM ET.
Program Purpose: The FOA states that…
“The PAF program provides funding to States and tribes to establish, maintain, or operate life-affirming services for expectant and parenting teens, women, fathers and their families in high schools, community service centers, and Institutions of Higher Education. The PAF program also allows States and tribes to provide funding to its Attorney General to improve services for pregnant women who are victims of domestic violence, sexual violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Additionally, the PAF program allows States and tribes to use grant funds to increase public awareness and education concerning any services or resources available to expectant and parenting teens, women, fathers and their families, which support the intent and purposes of this funding announcement.”
Our Brief Analysis
We have compared this FOA against the most recent past PAF announcement and note several departures from prior applicant instructions.
In addition to the summary analysis below, you may also refer to our more detailed comparison table, which includes direct quotations from the 2017 and 2018 FOAs.
Evidence-Based Approaches & Programs
2018 FOA: Removes expectations or even discussion around various theoretical and programmatic approaches applicable to the pregnant and parenting youth population and service delivery to them, such as use of evidence in project design and intervention selection, and positive youth development, trauma-informed, and multi-generational approaches.
Our Comments: A body of intervention research as well as past PAF grantees’ prior experience in program design and project implementation suggests that applicants should design their PAF projects with the above-mentioned approaches in mind, despite this FOA’s exclusion of discussion around them.
Holistic & Integrated Supportive Services
2018 FOA: Reduces emphasis on holistic and integrated supportive services as an important approach to supporting young people who are pregnant or parenting. While delivery of supportive services is not prohibited in the FOA, either directly or by referral; neither is it required. Furthermore, the FOA lacks illustration of the complete range of supportive services beneficial to expectant and parenting youth, such as childcare, income supports, sexuality education, and sexual and reproductive health.
Our Comments: With support and resources, young people who are pregnant or parenting can thrive. A holistic approach that addresses environmental factors, or social determinants of health, is necessary to support and empower this population and meet their unique needs. (Read related position statement.)
Marginalized Youth Populations
2018 FOA: Removes language highlighting marginalized populations as appropriate populations of focus in PAF projects, including LGBTQ+ youth, runaway and homeless youth, youth in foster care or the juvenile justice system, immigrant youth, and youth with disabilities.
Our Comments: These subpopulations of youth are at higher risk of pregnancy or parenting than the general youth population. Furthermore, recognizing the existence of health disparities and addressing social and ecological conditions unique to members of historically marginalized populations (such as people who are women, First Nation/Indigenous, African American, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, and/or LGBTQ+) is critical for these populations to achieve justice and equitable health and well-being outcomes.
2018 FOA: Prohibits applicants from submitting projects that place sole or primary focus on expectant and parenting men. Instead, applicants are directed to serve young fathers only as subsidiary to young women who are pregnant or parenting.
Our Comments: Expectant or parenting adolescent and young adult men deserve programs and services similar or complementary to those designed for young women who are pregnant or parenting. While young men may enjoy many privileges and opportunities by virtue of their gender, the area of pregnancy and parenting is one exception. More education and services that are friendly to young men and tailored to their unique needs are warranted. (Read related position statement.)
2018 FOA: Includes strengthening of marriages as an allowable use of funds while removing recognition of other family structures in background or project expectations.
Our Comments: While we acknowledge that there is a body of evidence that demonstrates positive effects of marriage, this research does not relate to adolescents, for whom marriage is often not a positive life course option, or even legal, depending on their age. Furthermore, there are many other ways to structure families—such as same-sex marriage, blended families, multi-generation families, and single-parent families—that are also suitable structures for childrearing.
2018 FOA: Introduces a new term, “life-affirming services” into the PAF program vocabulary without providing a definition of the term.
Our Comments: We encourage potential applicants to attend the technical assistance webinar and ask for the term “life-affirming” to be clearly defined.
Disparity Between Options for Resolving Pregnancy
2018 FOA: Explicitly authorizes grantees to use funds for adoption services while explicitly prohibiting the use of funds for referrals to abortion services.
Our Comments: All adolescents and young adults have a right to comprehensive, developmentally and culturally appropriate, confidential support and services, including contraceptive services, and if pregnant, to full options counseling and services.
Healthy Teen Network is concerned that these departures from prior announcements signal the intention of HHS to make the PAF program and its associated network of State, Territory, and Tribe projects less diverse and unwelcoming to the full range of youth in their jurisdictions who may experience pregnancy and parenting. Affirming young people who are pregnant or parenting is necessary to ensure equity for all youth (read our related position statement).
Healthy Teen Network encourages all eligible applicants to submit applications for PAF program funds. PAF is the sole federal program targeted to youth who are pregnant or parenting. We are confident that any State, Territory, or Tribe can make effective use of these resources in their educational or victim services systems.
We encourage potential applicants with questions about this FOA, including any concerns they may have about the application instructions, to communicate to the HHS/OASH Office of Adolescent Health (Attn: OAH PAF Program FY2018 FOA; 240-453-2846; FY18PAF_FOA@hhs.gov).
The technical assistance webinar for potential applicants will be held on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET; 888-677-1131; Passcode: 9256839. Participants can join the webinar online, also.
Relevant Resources for Program Design & Proposal Development
- Show Me the Money, Our Guide to Developing a Winning Grant Proposal
- Ensuring Equity for Youth by Affirming Young People Who Are Pregnant or Parenting
- Educational Equity for Young People Who Are Pregnant or Parenting
- Violence Prevention & Response Services for Youth Who Are Pregnant or Parenting
- Young Families BDI Logic Model Resource Kit (This resource kit is currently being revised; contact Gina Desiderio for more information).
Healthy Teen Network holds 40 years’ experience with youth who are pregnant and parenting and the health, human services, and education organizations that support them. Eligible applicants seeking assistance in program design or application development may request our help by completing a service request form.
About the Author
Healthy Teen Network envisions a world where all adolescents and young adults lead healthy and fulfilling lives. Founded in 1979, we promote better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations. We serve as a leading national membership organization (501c3) for adolescent health professionals and organizations, promoting a unique and holistic perspective—we call it Youth 360°—to improve the health and well-being of young people.