What to Do When GTO turns into “G.T. Whoa!”?

Date: August 10th, 2017

Deborah Chilcoat

Healthy Teen Network has been promoting and building the capacity of the adolescent sexual health field to use the evidence-based framework Getting to Outcomes (GTO) for a while now, and we were tickled when the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) recommended it as the framework for their Teen Pregnancy Prevention grantees in 2015. However, with the sudden announcement that funding for OAH-funded teen pregnancy prevention projects will end June 30, 2018, now seems to be a good time to remind the field that using GTO has, and will continue, to serve you well.

How are your programs doing so far? Take a look at your evaluation data. There will likely be things that are confetti-worthy, some that are confusing, and a few that are in need of some TLC. Let’s be honest, though: we are all so busy that doing Continuous Quality Improvement sometimes doesn’t happen. Luckily, if you are really letting GTO guide your work, this step will become one of your favorites! Plus, how else will you know how to answer my second question…

What’s your plan moving forward? Whether you have funding ending this year, next year, or indefinitely, you need to revisit your plan. What do you realistically think you can accomplish, especially if your project period is shorter than expected? Use the GTO tools to answer these questions. If your plan has a few cobwebs, dust it off and get to work revising it.

Will your program’s capacity remain strong? I don’t know. I cannot predict the future, and I will never guarantee staff will stick around until the end of the project. In the case of OAH grantees, keep building your team’s capacity, do your best to keep them motivated and in good spirits, and don’t lose momentum. There’s still time to do great things!

How will you keep your promise to youth, their parents/guardians, and the community? Sustainability planning, of course! Use GTO Step 10 (Sustainability) and other resources (OAH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and RAND) to help you figure out a way (or many ways!) to keep providing services.

Above all, don’t freak out! I know that the news of the OAH projects ending came as a surprise to some, but it is really, really important that you move through your stages of grief fairly quickly so that we can keep doing the incredible work of supporting youth!

How are you making sure GTO does not become “G.T. Whoa!”?

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About the Author

Deborah Chilcoat, M.Ed., brings over 16 years of experience in adolescent sexual and reproductive health and an unyielding commitment to improving the health and well-being of young people to her current position as Senior Training and Technical Assistance Manager at Healthy Teen Network. Deb’s extensive experience in project management, capacity-building assistance, collaborative partnerships, as well as evidence-based and innovative approaches has served to meet the needs of diverse youth and communities across the United States.


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