Texas A&M University Awarded Grant to Reduce Teen Pregnancies
The Center for Community Health Development at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health. The grant will be used to reduce teen pregnancies in high-risk populations.
Over the course of five years, the Center for Community Health Development will be working with the Department of Health and Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M. The project will be led by Principal Investigator and Co-Director of CCHD Kenneth McLeroy, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, Co-Principal Investigator Kelly Wilson, Ph.D., in the TAMU Department of Health and Kinesiology, and CCHD Research Services Director Whitney R. Garney, Ph.D.
Teen pregnancy is one of the main factors increasing child poverty rates. While teen pregnancy rates have dropped across the board, they have remained stagnant in high-risk populations.
“The programs we are helping organizations develop will be innovative and they will be reaching populations like Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender youth, youth in juvenile justice and foster care systems,” said Garney.
In the past these populations have not been reached. As a result, teen pregnancies have dropped dramatically in the past five years for other populations and they have remained the same for high-risk groups.
“Teen pregnancy rates have been reducing in general for the last five or so years,” said Garney. “What we are seeing is that they are not reducing in certain cell populations, which is why these programs are so important. The main point of this program is to develop programs that will serve the high-risk youth.”
From 2010-2015, the Office of Adolescent Health funded replication of evidence-based programs. These programs showed that while they were effective, populations with the highest need were not being reached.
“In our proposal we defined high-risk populations as LGBTQ youth, youth in juvenile justice and foster care systems, rural populations and teens who have already given birth,” said Wilson. “The Office of Adolescent Health also defines those groups as high-risk, so this is something that most of the teen pregnancy prevention initiatives across the nation are addressing.”
The project team and the project’s advisory committee, which will be comprised of nationally recognized subject matter experts, will begin reviewing proposals from teams nationwide that aim to develop innovative, evidence-based strategies to reduce teen pregnancies in high-risk populations.
“We plan to work with innovators from across the nation that will be proposing to us their innovative ideas about reducing teen pregnancy,” said Wilson.
Overall, the project, will work with 27 organizations as they develop promising teen pregnancy prevention programs. The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, through its project Integrating Teen Pregnancy Prevention Innovative Practices, will provide infrastructure, capacity building assistance and evaluation to support the development of innovative teen pregnancy prevention programs.