Date: March 25th, 2015
By: Gina Desiderio
As reported in The Baltimore Sun last week, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the encouraging news that the city’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly a third from 2009 to 2013. While this downward trend in Baltimore mimics the national declines we have been seeing, Baltimore has shown a strong commitment to reducing teen pregnancy in recent years, starting with developing a strategic plan to drive down the rates.
Beginning in 2009, Healthy Teen Network served as the lead organization with the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) and the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute and Center for Adolescent Health to develop a city-wide strategic plan to reduce teen births in Baltimore. (Read more about the project here.) This collaborative effort resulted in a community action team with subcommittees focused on clinical services, community and school health education interventions, and faith-based organization engagement. Following Getting to Outcomes® (GTO), a 10-step program planning, implementation, evaluation, and sustainability framework, Healthy Teen Network led key community stakeholders from start to finish—gathering and assessing all data including youth focus groups, key informant interviews, and assessment of existing data—to develop a strategic plan that was the starting point forBaltimore’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI).
Part of the larger B’more for Healthy Babies campaign, the TPPI has made great strides in the past two years implementing many of the proposed strategies from the strategic plan. Rebecca Dineen, Assistant Commissioner for Maternal and Child Health with BCHD, explains, “A lot of these ideas [for the TPPI] come straight from the Strategic Plan recommendations.”For Ms. Dineen, having the Strategic Plan lay out the available data, summarizing city teen birth outcomes, as well as the limited access to health care services, provided an invaluable starting point for the TPPI so they could “look at what we should be doing for the city, and what we should be doing differently.” TPPI activities thus far have included…
- A city-wide multimedia messaging campaign developed with local youth and launched in 2012 to empower teens and young adults to consider family planning options to help them reach their goals; several LARC training institutes; and a messaging campaign to gain support among parents and partners for contraceptive use have been developed;
- The formation of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a group of city youth who meet regularly to share insight on the city’s health programming, while also supporting their leadership development; and
- The Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) Project, a city-wide, multi-agency effort to increase access to LARCs, with accompanying resources in development, such as a family planning toolkit and LARC training for health care providers.
The city-wide strategic plan, along with the TPPI, demonstrates the power of partnership—when health departments, universities, nonprofits, foundations, schools, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and many, many other public and private agencies come together to achieve a goal.
About the Author
Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.