Highlight on FYSB Grantees: Preventing Teen Pregnancy and Other Social Problems

Photograph of diverse teens smiling.

Grantees of the Family and Youth Services Bureau have long worked on multiple fronts, addressing many problems that youth and families may face, from homelessness and hunger to substance abuse and mental illness to low education levels and unemployment.

Many youth served by existing programs are also at risk for teen pregnancy and parenthood, which have seen an uptick in the past few years after a decade of decline. With attention focused on preventing young people from becoming parents too soon, a dozen grantees of FYSB’s Youth Division have accepted the challenge and were this fall awarded federal grants to combat teen pregnancy.

“If we can prevent teen pregnancy, then we can prevent so many other social problems for these teens as well as their children,” says Pat Fling, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, in Reno.

Fling’s organization has a FYSB-funded mentoring children of prisoners program and will soon be testing the What Could You Do? teen pregnancy prevention program using a grant from FYSB’s Personal Responsibility Education Program Innovative Strategies, or PREIS, fund.

Nevada ranks high among states for the number of children with parents in prison there—about 30,000 young people—and for its teen pregnancy and birth rates. Fling says her organization has the tools to tackle both issues.

“Research shows that one-to-one mentoring prevents teen pregnancy,” she says. “We see this [teen pregnancy prevention] grant as a way to enhance what we’re already doing.”

BBBS of Northern Nevada will evaluate the effect of showing adolescent girls a series of videos that show girls their age dealing with questions related to sex, pregnancy, contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases. The project will also include training and coaching for the girls’ mentors, enabling them to weave conversations about those topics into everyday conversations.

“There are different levels of comfort among mentors in talking about these things,” Fling says. “This will bring everyone’s comfort up.”

At the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia’s Parkersburg office, teen pregnancy prevention will fit into the organization’s work in the low-income neighborhood known as “midtown,” says Steve Tuck, director of planning and program development. The office already runs a FYSB-funded emergency shelter and transitional living program as well as a drop-in center for teens and a resource center for families.

Using a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health, The Children’s Home Society will replicate the evidence-based Carrerra model for preventing teen pregnancy. The model helps youth develop personal goals and a vision for the future while also educating them about sex and its consequences.

Children’s Home Society will recruit youth for its teen pregnancy prevention program from a middle school with which it also has a project to increase school attendance. Young people will be followed  from sixth through ninth grade, receiving intense after-school and summer programming 50 weeks a year.

Tuck sees the possibility that youth in the teen pregnancy prevention program, who live in a neighborhood blighted by poverty, unemployment, drugs and vandalism, could use the Children’s Home Society’s drop-in center or be referred to the emergency shelter through the school-attendance program.

“In our community," he says, "those needs sometimes blend."

FYSB’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
The Office of Adolescent Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative

Youth Division grantees with Office of Adolescent Health Replication of Evidence-Based Programs grants (Tier 1)
Better Family Life, St. Louis, MO**
Children’s Home & Aid Society of Illinois, Granite City, IL*
Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, Charleston, WV***
Contra Costa Health Services, Martinez, CA*
Hawaii Youth Services Network, Honolulu, HI*
LifeWorks, Austin, TX*
San Diego Youth Services, San Diego, CA*
Sasha Bruce Youthwork, Washington, DC*
Youth Services of Tulsa, Inc, Tulsa, OK*

Youth Division grantees with Office of Adolescent Health Research and Demonstration Programs grants (Tier 2)
Volunteers of America of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA**

Youth Division grantees with FYSB PREIS (Personal Responsibility Education Program Innovative Strategies) grants
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, Reno, NV**
Father Flannagan’s Boys Home, Boys Town, NE*

*Runaway and Homeless Youth
**Mentoring Children of Prisoners
***Runaway and Homeless Youth and Mentoring Children of Prisoners

9-5 pm Eastern