How Can States Invest in Reducing Teen Pregnancy?
States are making hard choices in the current economic climate. However, every public $1 invested in preventing unplanned pregnancy saves $4.02 for the government and taxpayers.
Invest in proven interventions. The best way to ensure fiscal responsibility is to invest in what works, North Carolina’s Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program grants support local agencies to deliver programs that are proven to be effective at delaying sexual initiation, improving contraceptive use, and/or reducing adolescent pregnancy.
Maximize federal funds . States can consider how to maximize and/or supplement federal funding sources that support teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention. The recent legislation and the new health reform offers new opportunities, including the Personal Responsibility Education program (state formula grants) and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (competitive grants to public and private entities). Medicaid and Title X are two other significant funding sources, but states can also use flexible funding such as the Maternal and Child Health, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Social Services block grants. Georgia uses TANF to support Teen Centers that provide comprehensive health services to youth at risk of pregnancy and STDs. These services are delivered in local health departments or in alternative “teen friendly” settings with afternoon, evening, and weekend hours.
Leverage private funding. Funding from the California Wellness Foundation supported research, advocacy, a statewide media campaign and grants to communities over ten years. In New Mexico, the Plain Talk / Hablando Claro program is funded through a combination of Medicaid dollars and private donations from Unidos, a collaborative fund of multiple New Mexico foundations that have pooled their resources to address teen pregnancy in their communities.
Invest state general revenue. New Mexico allocated $525,000 in state general funds in 2008 specifically for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, including five school-based health centers and an innovative case management project for high-risk middle school children.
Focus funding on high priority groups. Massachusetts targets state funding to those communities with the highest teen birth rates, and to foster care youth and foster parents.
 Gold, R.B. et al., Next Steps for America’s Family Planning Program: Leveraging the Potential of Medicaid and Title X in an Evolving Health Care System, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2009.