Monday, November 6, 2017
The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) and the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) are announcing a new research and evaluation collaboration to support and improve teen pregnancy prevention and sexual risk avoidance programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ACF and OASH have a shared responsibility to help improve our children’s future whether they are served by OASH’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP) or ACF’s Personal Responsibility and Education (PREP), Title V, or Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) Programs.
OASH and ACF are partnering with two respected, nonpartisan research firms in this joint effort: Mathematica Policy Research and RTI International. This collaboration will enable both OASH and ACF to make informed decisions about the direction of their respective programs and help the young people served by this program achieve healthier outcomes.
The new effort is being funded from a variety of sources including available funds set aside for support and evaluation within the HHS Office of Adolescent Health. HHS is dedicated to identifying and testing new ideas and models, ensuring that the TPP Program and any sex education programs follow the science to improve youth health and well-being. The new research collaboration seeks scientific and data-driven answers to questions that inform healthier outcomes for our youth:
- How can communities work together to promote healthier outcomes for youth?
- How can educational resources more effectively resonate with youth?
- What economic impact does sexual delay have on the individual and on society as a whole?
- What can we learn from teens and their parents about conversation on avoiding risks and risky behavior, in order to improve future prospects for life success?
- How can social media be used to promote healthy and future-focused decision-making?
- Is it possible for youth who are currently engaged in risky behaviors to make healthier choices in the future?
- How can public health strategies inform the way we talk to teens about sex, relationships, and thriving and life success?
In addition, youth behavioral indicators will help inform decisions about the strategic direction of the programs. The most recent data on teen sexual behavior reveals that a growing majority (and a record percentage) of teens have not had sex. While teen pregnancy rates are at record lows, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at record highs, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. OASH’s TPP Program and ACF’s PREP, Title V, and SRAE Programs should be centered on science in the promotion of optimal health outcomes.
Another project funded through the TPP Program and supplementary to the OASH/ACF collaboration, will identify, test, and replicate meaningful ways to improve programs that are representative of the health needs of today’s youth population concerning teen pregnancy prevention. This separate OASH research project will partner with the MITRE Corporation, a federally funded research and development center. Further details will be announced when research is underway.