Date: October 26th, 2017
By: Pat Paluzzi
A Commitment to Evidence & Innovation
We’ve made great strides in the past decade, and teen births in the U.S. are at an all-time low. A number of factors have contributed to this downward trend, most significantly declines in the number of teens who have ever had sex, and among sexually active teens, increased use of effective contraception. This progress is the result of a commitment to relying on what we know works—the evidence—as well as using that evidence to support research and development of new solutions—innovation—in the pursuit of continued access to quality sex ed and reproductive health services.
However, despite the downward trend in teen births, the U.S. teen birth rates are still the highest of all industrialized nations, about half of all new cases of STIs each year in the U.S. are in young people, and among racial and ethnic groups in this country. Yet we face a constant onslaught from the current federal administration, threatening the health and well-being of our nation’s youth.
Given recent threats to federal support for evidence and innovation, unfortunately, we know can no longer rely on public funding to ensure youth-supporting professionals receive the critical training and resources they need to ensure we are using the best evidence and fostering innovation to provide quality sex ed for our nation’s young people.
And yet we know these capacity-building supports matter. Research tells us that teachers, social workers, health-care providers, and other professionals who receive training and educational resources are better able to do their jobs. And when professionals are better prepared, we see more positive outcomes for young people.
Reflecting back on Healthy Teen Network’s leadership in the field—most notably since 2000 where we have seen a tremendous surge in learning more about what works—and looking forward to how to increase our impact and address disparities, Healthy Teen Network reasserts our commitment to evidence and innovation.
Our 2017 – 2020 Strategic Plan is our map for how we will continue to lead the field to support and empower young people to thrive.
Some highlights from the strategic plan…read the full version to read more about each goal:
By 2020, Healthy Teen Network will work in all 50 states, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to build the capacity of youth-supporting professionals to empower young people to thrive.
Advance integration of a holistic approach to adolescent sexual and reproductive health programs and services.
Lead the use of evidence and innovation to support and empower young people to thrive.
Promote and advance adolescent sexual and reproductive health as critical to the well-being of our nation.
Check out the full strategic plan and let us know what you think! Looking forward, how do YOU plan to stand strong and keep youth at the center (our 2018 conference theme, by the way, so save the date!)?
About the Author
Patricia Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, President and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, has been active in the fields of reproductive, and maternal and child health for over 40 years, as a clinician, researcher, administrator, and advocate. Her clinical and content expertise spans the full scope of midwifery care, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, high-risk maternal child health (including pregnant teens), incorporating men into clinical services, and trauma-informed approaches.