A new study by the Guttmacher Institute reports that teen pregnancy rates have reached a 40-year low. Still, teen pregnancy costs Georgia taxpayers more than $465 million annually and intersects with every social issue that burdens our state such as poverty, high school dropout rates, healthcare, unemployment, and fragile families. Richmond County has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, 22.9 percent higher than the state rate.
The county-wide, collaborative initiative, We Are Change: Richmond County for a Brighter Future, is looking to change that. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and administered by the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP), the project is part of a national initiative to decrease teen pregnancy by implementing proven effective programs.
This is expected to lead to an increase in the percentage of teens who delay sex, and an increase in the consistent and correct use of contraception among teens who are sexually active. The ultimate goal is to reduce teen pregnancy in Richmond County by 10% by 2015.
Teenage parents are much more likely to face persistent poverty, drop out of high school, not earn a living wage, and become dependent on public assistance, and encounter a minefield of challenges for years to come. Only 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22. Richmond County's graduate rate is approximately 15% lower than the state rate of 75%. By reducing the teen pregnancy rate in the county a large number of young people will have a better chance at success.
A critical component of the initiative is community participation. Under the We Are Change umbrella, G-CAPP works with an Augusta/Richmond County advisory group compromised of representatives from public health, government, business, the faith community, parents, and young people. This group provides guidance over the course of the initiative.
Over the duration of the initiative G-CAPP will work with 11 youth-serving organizations and five clinical partners in Richmond County to reach over 16,000 youth ages 15 to 19.
Teen childbearing costs Richmond County taxpayers $10.2 million a year in public healthcare, child welfare, and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending. By reducing teen pregnancy by 10%, the county can expect to save an estimated $1.2 million a year.
According to a We Are Change Community-Wide Survey of Parents and Teenagers:
- 81% of Richmond County teens ages 15 -17 say their friends are sexually active
- 93% od parents or caregivers believe that Richmond County schools should provide sex education to students
- Nearly all parents survey believe that youth people should be taught a wide range of topics that include abstinence, ways to prevent pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) and HIV, and healthy relationships
- The top issue teens identified they face in Richmond County are sexual violence/abuse
- 89% of parents/caregivers and 72% of tens report that teen pregnancy is a very serious problem in Richmond County
426 Youth - Most youth participants were African American, between the ages of 15-17, and in school.
There was an even split between males and females. 483 Adults, 23 Businesses, 20 Faith Communities, 16 Elected Officials, 20 Pharmacies, 11 Youth Serving Organization Partners, 6 Clinic Partners.
RICHMOND COUNTY PARTNERS
For more information call at 706-922-6041
Preventing Youth Pregnancy in Foster Care
President Barack Obama released his Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request, signaling a commitment to maintaining funding for existing programs that reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, the President’s budget includes a new focus on preventing pregnancy among youth in foster care.
Specifically, the President’s budget:
- Provides level funding for the Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) at just under $105 million. This continues $75 million for Tier 1 grants and $25 million for Tier 2 grants, with the remainder for program support, and maintains existing language establishing standards of evidence and evaluation.
- Reduces evaluation funding for TPPP from $8.5 million in FY 2012 to $4.2 million for FY 2013.
- Does not provide an additional year of funding for the new $5 million abstinence program included in the FY 2012 appropriations bill.
- Maintains level funding for several multi-year mandatory programs, including $75 million for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), $50 million in budget authority for State Abstinence Education Grants, and $25 million for the Pregnancy Assistance Fund.
- Proposes approximately $297 million for the Title X family planning program, which is essentially level funding from FY 2012.
- Provides $640 million for the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant, which essentially level-funds the program from its FY 2012 level. (Both Title X and the MCH Block Grant were subject to additional across-the-board cuts for FY 2012 after the funds were appropriated).
- Provides $3.1 billion for community health centers, an increase of $300 million over the FY 2012 level. This includes discretionary funding of $1.2 billion and $1.9 billion in mandatory funds from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Grants will focus on funding the most effective approaches to pregnancy prevention in the foster care population, adapting evidence- based programs to fit the needs of this population, and further building the evidence-base using both abstinence and more comprehensive approaches. In addition, the program will focus on systemic changes to the foster care system and coordination among multiple public and private agencies that can play a role in bringing down the high rates of teen pregnancy among youth in foster care. Funding would come from available Abstinence Education funds that are not drawn down by states.
“Given the fiscal pressures facing our country, we are pleased that the President’s budget maintains funding for important programs to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy, with a continued commitment to evidence-based approaches,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
“We also applaud the new effort to address the high rates of pregnancy among youth in foster care, who are twice as likely as other teens to become pregnant. Maintaining commitments to programs that work to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy in the first place will save taxpayers billions of dollars every year, contribute to our economic competitiveness, improve the well-being of children and families, and reduce abortion as well.”