The Maternal and Child Health Bureau is reducing unintended pregnancies and decreasing teen pregnancies by using a multi-faceted approach. Activities range from clinical services through the State's Family Planning Program to training and educational opportunities offered through various venues. A Community Health Educator in the Center serves as the State's Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator.
Maryland Family Planning Health Program
This Program provides family planning, preconception health and teen pregnancy prevention services to the 70,000+ clients served annually in over 80 sites statewide. Teens represent approximately one third of clients served statewide. Grants are awarded to local health departments and Planned Parenthood for the provision of clinical and other services. This Program funds Healthy Teen and Young Adult (HTYA) sites in Baltimore City, Prince George's County and Anne Arundel County. HTYA is a program designed to reach and serve young people at risk for unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and high risk behaviors. Service sites provide a holistic approach to health care and community-based prevention efforts. Male involvement coordinators design and implement activities to help young men understand their passage through boyhood and manhood as a prelude to fatherhood. The HTYA Program serves young men and women up to age 24.
Abstinence Education and Coordination Program
Maryland has received a Section 510 Abstinence education grant since 1998. The Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) within the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) used these funds to administer the Maryland Abstinence Education and Coordination Program (MAECP). MAECP uses a multi-dimensional approach to promote sexual abstinence among adolescents as the healthiest choice for Maryland youth. This funding was discontinued briefly in 2009 due to the discontinuing of federal funding. In FY2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act reauthorizing the abstinence education funding, Maryland is once again administering federal abstinence education funds. Providing teens and their caregivers with the information and tools to help delay sexual activity and prevent unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases is vital to improving outcomes for adolescents. With these funds, Maryland is supporting agencies and community groups that serve high risk populations that are in need of abstinence education and programming.
Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP)
The purpose of the federally funded Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), is to educate adolescents on abstinence, contraception, and other adult preparation topics. The goal is to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS. States are encouraged to serve youth ages 10-19 who meet the following criteria:
- Live in geographic areas with high teen birth rates
- Youth in or aging out of foster care or the juvenile justice system
- Homeless/ runaway/out of school youth
- Pregnant or parenting youth
- Youth with HIV/AIDS.
The Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is the administrator of Maryland's PREP funding. The DHMH Maternal & Child Health Bureau has awarded mini-grants to Local Health Departments and community partners through a Request for Proposal process. Each site must demonstrate the need for PREP funding in their community and their capacity to implement an approved evidence-based curriculum to the youth population there.
Training and Education
The Maternal & Child Health Bureau provides a broad range of training and educational opportunities to professionals, parents and teens to promote abstinence and/or prevent teen pregnancy. Workshops and trainings are designed to keep professionals who work with teens abreast of research and programming in the areas of positive youth development, adolescent brain development and teen pregnancy prevention. Educational materials are provided to parents/caregivers to educate them on communicating with youth to foster attitudes to help them avoid becoming teen parents.
Data Analysis and Performance Monitoring
The Maternal & Child Health Bureau monitors teen birth rates and related indicators as required by Federal Maternal and Child Health Block Grant guidelines.
Outreach, Advocacy and Technical Assistance
The Maternal and Child Health Bureau works collaboratively with various federal, state and local government agencies, local health departments and other health providers, advocacy groups, community based organizations and other stakeholders to address teen pregnancy. Technical assistance on teen pregnancy prevention issues including best and promising practices is provided when requested.
The key to the success of Healthy Teens and Young Adults is the focus on teenagers and young adults. These programs and all of the activities and services provided are directed at young people and the HTYA environment is designed to be adolescent-friendly.