Hennepin County Says They’ve Lowered Teen Pregnancy!
By Andrew Richter
This is just hilarious and typical of people in government;
Investments Hennepin County has made into preventing teen pregnancy and providing health education resources in communities and schools are working, according to data released last week that shows the county’s teen birth rate has declined for the past five years.
By investments of course they mean government spending.
According to Hennepin County, 692 young women ages 15-19 gave birth in 2011. The number is a decline from 1,170 births in 2007. Birth rates for 17 of the largest cities in Hennepin County were determined using the Minnesota Department of Health’s birth certificate records.
“I think what these numbers do is reinforce that what we’re doing is the right thing to do,” said Katherine Meerse, the manager for Better Together Hennepin: Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth Initiative.
Teen pregnancy prevention has been an important goal in Hennepin County for a long time, according to Meerse. In 2006, the county implemented more focused efforts to work in communities with high teen birth rates and sought funding, she said.
Better Together Hennepin started with partnerships between the county, schools, parents, faith communities, libraries and community organizations to offer programs known to help young people delay parenthood until they become adults. Healthy youth development programs, communication with parents about sex and relationships, responsible sex education and accessible reproductive health services are part of the county’s initiative to prevent teen pregnancy.
How about abstinence? Or is that “too religious?”
Then the county received federal funding, an average of $3.4 million per year for five years, to establish “It’s Your Future,” a project that includes the Teen Outreach Program and Safer Sex initiative. “We decided to focus on communities where rates were high and with a mix of programs and services,” Meerse said.
You focused on where rates were high???? Where else should you focus? You want credit for that?
Brooklyn Center and Richfield were two cities the county focused on during the early stages of the programs, and it continues to do so today. “Being smaller communities, they allowed us to get a mix of programs and services and reach a substantial amount of kids,” Meerse said.
It’s Your Future includes the Teen Outreach Program and Safer Sex initiative funded by the five-year federal grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) is school-based, and Safer Sex is clinic-based, Meerse said. TOP has a curriculum based on helping adolescents make healthy choices as well as service learning opportunities. In Brooklyn Center, teachers have been trained as co-facilitators of the program with assistance from health educators.
Haley Morgan is a health educator with the Annex Teen Clinic in Robbinsdale and she has an office in Brooklyn Center High School. “I did expect a decline, especially since we have so many educators in the schools,” Morgan said in reaction to the teen birth rate statistics released last week.
According to Hennepin County, TOP participants have a 53 percent lower risk of pregnancy, 52 percent lower risk of school suspension and 60 percent lower risk of course failure.
Of course there is no link to see these stats for yourself so take it with a grain of salt. Lower the risk of school suspension?
Safer Sex is shown to reduce “risky” behaviors by teens that lead to sexually transmitted infections, according to the county. Youths meet one-on-one with health educators in the program, compared to the full classroom environment with TOP.
Either way, Morgan says the presence of trusting adults for students to talk to in school is key. “I just believe the relationships help,” she said.
Da’Rnay Sandlin is a 2013 Brooklyn Center High School graduate who has had access to the county programs during her education. “I think it’s really important and it’s a good thing that she is in the school,” Sandlin, 18, said about Morgan. “She was always there to help and guide us,” Sandlin said.
Brooklyn Center’s 2011 birth rate was the highest among 17 Hennepin County cities, at 50.4 births per 1,000 females age 15-19.
“When you calculate the birth rate, it’s how many babies were born among females age 15-19,” Meerse said. “The rates allow you to compare apples to apples,” she said.
Brooklyn Center’s birth rate was at its lowest in 2010 at 46.7 and the highest with 94.1 in 2007. The rate declined to 70.9 in 2008 and has continued to decrease since then, with the exception of the slight increase in 2011. Overall teen births in Brooklyn Center have declined 44 percent since 2007.
Is that solely because of this program???
The city of Richfield also experienced a significant decline in teen births from 2007 to 2011. The number dropped by 63 percent during those four years. Teen births in Minneapolis declined by more than 40 percent from 2007 to 2011.
In 2011, the second highest birth rate to Brooklyn Center’s was Brooklyn Park with 34.9 births per 1,000 females age 15-19, followed by Robbinsdale at 32 births. However both those cities have also experienced an overall decline in teen births since 2007.
Morgan said the decrease in teen births in Brooklyn Center and throughout Hennepin County shows providers the programs are working.
Really? How do we know that? Perhaps there are other factors maybe…..
“They want to know that overall it’s working and overall it’s going to save taxpayers money,” Morgan said.
Right…..if it saves us money where’s my check?
Even with the declines in teen births, there is more work to be done.
Translation: There’s more money to spend.
“I think it’s important for people to realize that we don’t sit back and say we’ve solved the problem,” Meerse said. There are still groups of teens, including ethnic minorities and those in foster care programs and the corrections system, that have higher teen birth rates, according to Meerse.
Yes I mean what did we do before government programs?
The county will continue to look for additional funding to develop programs to help teens specifically in those groups, she said. They also focus on preventing teens from having a second child.
Like I said, more programs, more money.
“Having a first child puts you at greater risk as having a second child as a teenager,” Meerse said. “I think overall in Minnesota we are doing a pretty (good) job … providing support to our teen parents to help them be successful and help them graduate high school,” she said.
Yes Minnesota is just great at giving handouts.
In the schools, Morgan said it will continue to be important to help teens make good decisions in life, in addition to the focus on their sexual health.
“I think it’s really important (we) are very aware that along with sexual health there are a lot of social emotional needs that need to be met,” Morgan said.
Hennepin County’s expected results from the five-year It’s Your Future program include reaching approximately 13,000 students in middle school and high school through the Teen Outreach Program and about 14,000 through the Safer Sex initiative. “The decline in teen births in Hennepin County shows that our efforts continue to be effective,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat. Opat is a key supporter of the county’s teen pregnancy prevention efforts, according to Meerse.
How could we live without you Mr. Opat!
“While teen pregnancy remains a critical issue for Hennepin, the data clearly tells us that when you provide kids with comprehensive education and proper access to health services, it will save taxpayer resources years into the future – and help them set up to reach their full potential,” Opat said.
We always here how things like this “will save taxpayer money in the future.” It’s funny my taxes aren’t going down…..are yours?