Hartford Action Plan creates Breaking the Cycle community partnership.
Not only does it provide integrated programs and messages on these three topics, it also provides a model of integrated work across diverse community organizations and government agencies.
What started as a program to help "break the cycle" of teen pregnancy among the city's young people has grown into a model strategic plan designed to give them access to the information, skills, and services they need to make and carry out responsible decisions.
One of the strongest and most important roles of Breaking the Cycle is advocacy for appropriate health care services for teens--including comprehensive education and access to reproductive health services throughout the public school system, the city, and community agencies.
This partnership was originally created to reach younger children with the message to delay sexual involvement through the nationally recognized Postponing Sexual Involvement curriculum. We succeeded in getting the program in 10 of 26 of the city's fifth grade classes in 1996. It now reaches all elementary schools in Hartford.
Buoyed by our success, we expanded our efforts to provide teens in all Hartford public schools with detailed reproductive health care information in their sexuality education curriculum. As a result, the school system completely revamped the curriculum and mandated it for all high school students starting in the ninth grade (rather than in later years).
The Superintendent of Schools subsequently recommended to the Board of Trustees of the Hartford School System that the system provide reproductive and preventive health services, including contraception, counseling, and testing for sexually active youth. That resolution was adopted in 2001. This action to assure direct reproductive health care services to teens is one of Breaking the Cycle's most significant successes. (See the complete Resolution on page 30.)
Breaking the Cycle recognizes the need for action and programming that addresses all facets of teen pregnancy prevention and acknowledges the community-wide responsibility to act. To that end, we have implemented a five-year strategic plan that includes:
Board and community activism. Communities that are negatively impacted by teen pregnancy must make a concerted effort to educate and mobilize adults so that they influence the attitudes and behaviors of adolescents and the institutions that affect them.
We are committed to long-term action that changes the behaviors of young people and adults. We want young people to choose not to become parents until they are responsible adults. We want adults to reject the concept that children having children is acceptable in this city.
We are also committed to intensified activities that bring the issue of teen pregnancy to the public eye; affect necessary policy changes at the local, state, and national level; and promote actions throughout the community that target specific areas of need.
Because national evidence points to the essential role of parents and adults in sexuality education, our activities target hundreds of Hartford parents and adults.
Advocacy and awareness. We are carrying out intensive communications efforts that convey the urgency of teen pregnancy prevention. These include professionally produced television public service announcements (PSAs) to highlight specific prevention issues; progress reports that highlight initiatives and prevention issues; and communication through our web site. Our communications materials focus strongly on the essential role that parents and adults must play in decreasing teen pregnancy.
Latino strategy. The new reproductive health services of the Hartford School System grew from data collected by our Latino Strategy Committee and its liaison with the Superintendent of Schools. Working with the committee, we are designing new interventions specific to the Latino community. At the same time, we are continuing to offer programs in Spanish and to develop public awareness/media products in Spanish.
Best practices for teen pregnancy prevention. We are encouraging city youth programs to use best practices for teen pregnancy prevention. Our Always on Saturday program is conducted at three sites as a demonstration program for other groups to replicate.
Protecting sexually active youth. We continue to recognize a responsibility to reach youth who are sexually active with information about prevention and to make certain that appropriate reproductive health care services, including emergency contraception, are available to them.
We have written, published, and distributed 20,000 copies of the first-ever resource guide for Hartford teens on reproductive health care services--where to call, where to go, what to ask.
Working in partnership with existing teen parent programs in Hartford, the Hartford Action Plan has developed a new project to assure that research-tested repeat birth prevention services are provided to teen mothers.
Age-appropriate health services. The effort to assure access to appropriate comprehensive adolescent health care services grows from the work of our Health Care Initiatives Project, which completed its first study of need in 1997. That first report, Health Care Components and Cost/Benefit Analysis for Teen Pregnancy Prevention, revealed that the health care costs alone for the 581 teen births in Hartford in 1996 were $6.4 million but that few health care dollars were spent on preventing such teen pregnancies.
We took this issue further with the Roundtable on Health Care Interventions to Reduce Teen Pregnancy (with area health providers) and a major project called Confidentiality in Adolescent Health Care. We are now working with managed care plans and health care practitioners to promote the implementation of the Action Plan's health care recommendations, which include providing reproductive health care services, counseling, and education to Hartford youth as part of annual physical exams; working with health providers to promote awareness of emergency contraception; working with school based health centers to see that teens receive reproductive health care services; and working with teens to raise awareness and develop self advocacy. Both HealthNet (PHS) and Anthem Blue Cross have joined this effort.
Adult/parent interventions. Our Let's Talk training program teaches adults and parents how to talk with their children about sexuality. We offer this free training in English and Spanish to parents in Hartford public schools, the faith community, and youth-serving agencies. Our Adult Advisors Academy offers one-day sessions to educate adults about communication and their role in teen pregnancy prevention. We also brought 160 adults and youth together in an overnight I AM 4 Real program.
The Breaking the Cycle partnership is innovative in strategy and in content. It is a true public-private effort sustained among the highest levels of leadership of the city, evidenced by financial and in-kind commitments made by all parties, and growing in intensity and content.
We believe it to be much stronger than many community collaborations, which often are simply communication agreements among agency leaders. The collaborative effort has been maintained through four school superintendents, the takeover of the school system by state government, and ongoing changes in the city political structure.
The benefits to young people involved in pregnancy prevention programs such as those in Hartford go beyond overcoming the risk of their becoming teen parents. National evidence shows that programs designed to develop decision-making and refusal skills result in rejection of unhealthy behaviors, including risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse, and school underachievement.
And, ultimately, the benefits to the city grow from a stronger, healthier citizen base, a better educated work force, lower levels of poverty, and a reduction in the cycle of dependency on public assistance.
We sincerely believe our program has proved particularly significant in terms of integrating information on pregnancy, STDs, and HIV and in terms of bringing together diverse community organizations and government agencies to work on these issues. We hope others can benefit from our efforts and our success.
Contact information: Jean King, Hartford Action Plan, 30 Arbor Street, Hartford, CT 06106. Phone: 860-232/0641. Fax: 860-232-8321. E-mail: email@example.com
RELATED ARTICLE: RESOLUTION CONNECTICUT STATE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
This is to certify that at a meeting of the State Board of Trustees, July 10, 2001, the following RESOLUTION was passed.
WHEREAS, Breaking the Cycle, a partnership of the City of Hartford, the Hartford Public Schools, and the Hartford Action Plan, with assistance from state and local officials, non-profit organizations, and corporate partners, has made a difference in addressing teenage pregnancy in the City of Hartford, reducing the number of births to teenagers from 598 in 1995 to 487 in 1999; and
WHEREAS, Recognizing that the number of births to teenagers and the rate of teen pregnancy in Hartford is still much too high and is significantly above the average for large cities, Breaking the Cycle has adopted a five year Strategic Plan to bring teenage pregnancy in Hartford down to the National average for large cities; and
WHEREAS, The occurrence of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) is at alarming levels among adolescents in Hartford, with youth ages 19 and below accounting for 669 cases of chlamydia out of 1,678 representing 40 percent of total cases, and 230 cases of gonorrhea out of 721 representing 32 percent of total cases in the Year 2000; and
WHEREAS, Research has shown that more than half of Hartford youth are sexually active by ninth grade; and
WHEREAS, The Hartford Public Schools, as part of their contribution to the Breaking the Cycle Partnership, have significantly expanded and improved the health education curriculum, are providing the Postponing Sexual Involvement Program to all fifth grade students; are providing health services to adolescents through the school-based health centers; and are researching ways to reduce the incidence of STD's among Hartford students; and
WHEREAS, the Kids Count Report and other research clearly illustrates that more resources are necessary to better address the problems it identifies; and
WHEREAS, The progress of the Breaking the Cycle Campaign to reduce teen pregnancy demonstrates that a concerted community effort can change behavior; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Superintendent and the President of the Board of Trustees of the Hartford Public Schools reaffirms the commitment of the Hartford Public Schools to reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Strategic Plan 2001-2005 is endorsed by the Superintendent and the Board of Trustees; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Board of Trustees of the Hartford Public Schools hereby direct the Superintendent to immediately implement the following Board Policy:
The Hartford Public Schools will provide developmentally appropriate reproductive health education to all students grades K through 12 with particular emphasis on grades 7 through 9. The Health Department of the Hartford Public Schools will make available reproductive and preventative health services including contraception, counseling and testing for sexually active youth.
Breaking the Cycle recognizes the need to maintain effective projects as well as to develop new approaches so that we continue to have a positive impact on Hartford's young people who are at risk of becoming teen parents. Program areas supported with CDBG funds include:
Specific interventions to reach the Latino community
* Using the Always on Saturday program as a model for Best Practices in teen pregnancy prevention for citywide youth programs
* Actions to help young people who are sexually active be aware of the availability of reproductive health care services and health care providers more aware of emergency contraception.
* Working in partnership with existing teen parent programs in Hartford to promote and provide training to assure that pregnancy prevention services are provided to teen mothers
* Expansion of age-appropriate preventive health services that prevent teen pregnancy for Hartford teens.
* Actions to involve parents and adults throughout the community
* Let's Talk--a training program for parents
* Adult/Youth forums and program that bring adults and youth together to discuss issues of sexuality
* Training for youth workers on communication with youth about issues of sexuality and teen pregnancy prevention
* Support for health education curricula in the Hartford schools; for the Postponing Sexual Involvement Program; and for the involvement of youth in all program activities
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|Date:||Feb 1, 2003|
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