By Stephanie Innes
Two programs to prevent teen pregnancy in Southern Arizona are in peril due to funding cuts by the Trump administration.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will pull grant funding for its Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, created by the Obama administration in 2010. The funding affects 81 sites, including sites in Tucson and Phoenix.
Officials with Child & Family Resources, a nonprofit Tucson social-service agency, are trying to figure out how to move forward after the recent and unexpected news that, come June, the organization will lose the final two years of a $7 million, five-year federal grant to prevent teenage pregnancy.
The lost money amounts to $2.8 million for evidence-based programs that have been reaching 3,000 Southern Arizona youths per year. Evidence-based refers to programs shown to improve measurable outcomes.
HHS emailed a statement to the Star that the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has shown “very weak evidence of a positive impact” and is proving to be a “poor use of more than $800 million in taxpayer dollars” nationwide.
Federal officials also cited a recent report that sexually transmitted diseases are at record highs as further evidence that the program was ineffective.
HHS says future decisions regarding the program will be guided by science and a “firm commitment to giving all youth the information and skills they need to improve their prospects for optimal health outcomes.”
But grant administrators in Tucson and around the country say the programs have proven effective in continuing a national trend of reduced teen pregnancies.