National research has identified a significant link between education and health. High school graduates live longer, healthier lives than dropouts. College graduates have even longer life spans, better access to health care, better dietary and health practices, and overall better health. Unfortunately, about a quarter of California counties have high school dropout rates close to 20 percent or more, including Los Angeles at 17 percent. While there are numerous factors contributing to the dropout rate, one third of female dropouts say that pregnancy or becoming a parent played a role in their decision to leave school. Consequences faced include higher rates of unemployment, low earnings, poorer health and more reliance on public support. The social and economic costs of teen pregnancy and childbearing are both significant and far-reaching. In California, the estimated taxpayer cost is close to 1 billion dollars per year in lost productivity over the lifetime of both mother and child, high burdens to the healthcare system, further demands to child welfare agencies, and in the worst of cases, expenses related to incarceration. In 2013, there were 23.5 per 1,000 teen births in Los Angeles County. Girls most at risk for teen pregnancy are Latinas from low income communities. Additional risk factors include: low maternal education level; lack of effective contraceptive use/family planning practices; and initiation of sexual activity at a young age. One of the most efficient and effective ways to reach this at-risk population is through high school-based programs. NHF’s existing Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program has worked with pregnant teens and teen parents for more than seven years; however there is critical need for education and support services to reach adolescent girls at the greatest risk for pregnancy and subsequent dropout before they get pregnant, ultimately breaking the cycle of teenage pregnancy. To this end, NHF implements a pregnancy prevention program, Go Harold’s Way: Be a STAR (Successful Teen Acting Responsibly) at two high schools within LAUSD (Thomas Jefferson High and Santee Education Complex).
Measured or Anticipated Outcomes
- Reduce the incidence of pregnancy among teens participating in the program
- Improve high school graduation/completion rates among participants
- Connect participants to health and social services and resources in their communities
- In the pilot session of the program, 38 students participated in the program
A comprehensive approach to teen pregnancy prevention utilizing individual services and peer group education sessions focuses on improving the overall health, well-being and success of teens and their communities.
Funding is generously provided by the Harold Edelstein Foundation.
NHF is working with ONEgeneration who will facilitate Be a Star in sites they currently serve through their pregnant and parenting teens program.
Jeanette Pena, Program Manager, at email@example.com.