Put Children and Youth on the Path for Successful Futures
HHS is committed to supporting both evidence-based programs and innovative approaches for children and youth in order to positively impact a range of important social and health outcomes such as child maltreatment, school readiness, teen pregnancy, youth violence, sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, substance abuse, and delinquency. HHS is investing in strategies that give children and youth a positive start in life and help ensure their future health and development.
Promote Improvements in Maternal, Child, and Family Health and Development
Recognizing the importance of promoting healthy development for children and improving maternal health, the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program gives funding to states, territories, and tribes to provide pregnant women and children from birth to age five with evidence-based home visiting services. In these programs, nurses, teachers, social workers or other trained staff work with families in their home to help parents succeed by teaching them positive parenting skills, helping them to identify any developmental or health issues, and connecting parents with community supports and services. The initiative seeks to replicate models that have been shown to improve maternal and newborn health; prevent child injuries, child abuse, neglect, or maltreatment; improve school readiness and achievement; and improve the coordination and referrals for other community resources and supports.
Address Trauma and Improve Outcomes for Children and Youth in Foster Care
HHS is working to fund new approaches that improve short- and long-term outcomes for children and youth in foster care who have experienced abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence. Several initiatives are designed to mitigate the impact of trauma, promote social and emotional well-being, and equip children and youth with the skills and capacities they need to be successful in life. Increasing the use of trauma screening, functional assessment, and evidence-based practices is critical in each initiative. In several states, child welfare systems are testing innovative strategies to improve well-being for children in or at risk of entering foster care. Many of these strategies involve collaboration in states with partner systems, including Medicaid, mental health, and substance abuse, to deliver effective, evidence-based interventions that reduce trauma, promote healing, and increase healthy social and emotional functioning.
Reduce Rates of Teen Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections, and Associated Sexual Risk Behaviors
HHS is investing in evidence-based programs that have been shown to reduce teen pregnancy or the risk behaviors associated with teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Under the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, HHS funds states, non-profit organizations, school districts, universities, and others to replicate models that have been rigorously evaluated and shown to be effective at reducing teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, or other associated sexual risk behaviors. Funding also supports research and demonstration projects that will develop and test additional models and innovative strategies to prevent teen pregnancy. The Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP), as part of the Affordable Care Act, also funds evidence-based program models through formula grants to states, and tests new strategies through competitive grants to public and private entities. Both programs target groups with high teen pregnancy rates.
Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services for Children and Youth
Behavioral health conditions among children and youth occur at a disturbing rate, impacting overall growth and development. Compared with their peers, children, youth, and young adults with untreated mental health conditions are more likely to experience homelessness, be arrested, drop out of school, and be underemployed. HHS invests in the development of preventive and early identification strategies, including integrating care systems that address the primary care, behavioral health, specialty care, and social support needs of children and youth with behavioral health conditions in a manner that is continuous and family-centered. HHS also invests in programs that assist children and youth with mental illnesses and their families in accessing and navigating the behavioral health system. HHS supports the development of comprehensive, community-based systems of care for children and youth with serious mental health conditions, and their families. Within systems of care, youth and families partner with state and local providers and policymakers in health and behavioral health service delivery with the goal of preparing children and youth for successful transitions to adulthood and the successful assumption of adult roles and responsibilities.
Promote Youth Violence Prevention and School Safety
HHS promotes youth violence prevention and school safety by supporting programming that facilitates the safety, well-being, resilience, and healthy development of children and youth. HHS is working together with its federal and state partners to implement evidence-based strategies which reduce violence, bullying, and other problem behaviors like substance abuse and delinquency, while fostering resiliency among youth and school communities. HHS also supports programming that addresses the risk for violence for youth exposed to violence, by supporting access to behavioral health services and other school-based violence prevention activities.