FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  August 7, 2017                                CONTACT:   Liz Voyles, liz@brassrc.com

Big City Health Commissioners Denounce Trump Administration’s Early Cancellation of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Grants

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty health commissioners from large America’s largest, most urban cities recently wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price to question why the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) is now slated to end two years sooner than planned.

The Department’s Office of Adolescent Health recently informed grantees that instead of a five-year project period, funds would end next June, after just three years. Ending these projects two years early is highly disruptive to work already under way, including not just the provision of services, but also important research aimed at measuring effectiveness of publicly funded programs. Cities also will lose significant amounts of critical funding, and some are formally appealing HHS’s decision to shorten the program period.

The letter was sent by the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC). The Coalition is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans.

Large, urban health departments are currently experiencing great success in lowering teen pregnancy rates across the country. Teen birth rates in the U.S. have dropped 8 percent since 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but the rate is still substantially higher than other industrialized nations. This important teen pregnancy prevention program funds rigorous – and needed – evaluation research meant to ensure that programs in local communities across the country are as effective as they can possibly be and identify best, innovative practices for further reducing teen pregnancy rates. It is now slated to end two years early.

These cuts will negatively affect the lives of young people currently participating in the programs, will result in job losses for trained professionals, and reduce effective community partnerships. Further, researchers will be unable to analyze data they have spent years collecting, and it will be incredibly difficult to draw any conclusions about which programs work best and which are less effective at preventing unwanted teen pregnancy.

The stakes for American teens are high, when it comes to having children early in life. According to the CDC:

  • In 2010, teen pregnancy and childbirth accounted for at least $9.4 billion in costs to U.S. taxpayers for increased health care and foster care, increased incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.
  • Pregnancy and birth are significant contributors to high school dropout rates among girls. Only about 50% of teen mothers receive a high school diploma by 22 years of age, whereas approximately 90% of women who do not give birth during adolescence graduate from high school.
  • The children of teenage mothers are more likely to have lower school achievement and to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as a teenager, and face unemployment as a young adult.

Cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in communities across the nation.

The Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC) is a forum for the leaders of America’s largest metropolitan health departments to exchange strategies and jointly address issues to promote and protect the health and safety of their residents. Collectively, BCHC member jurisdictions directly impact more than 54 million people, or one in six Americans. The Big Cities Health Coalition is an independent project of the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO). For more information, please visit http://www.bigcitieshealth.org/.

 

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