ACT for Youth

EBPs Go to School: A Toolkit

EBPs Go to SchoolCAPP and PREP providers use evidence-based programs (EBPs) to promote sexual health and prevent STDs, HIV/AIDS, and adolescent pregnancy. Many providers are reaching youth through classrooms, but because school staff and administrators face many competing pressures, collaboration with schools can be challenging. In this section we provide tips, tools, and background to help CAPP and PREP providers work well with schools in New York State.

Why Schools?

Why is teen pregnancy important to schools?

School administrators and teachers want their students to succeed. They see the impact of teen pregnancy on their students, and are aware of the role that teen pregnancy plays in disrupting the central goal of schools -- educating and graduating students:
  • Low graduation rates are often linked to high teen birth rates [1].
     
  • Daily attendance rates may be adversely affected by pregnancy and parenting. Teen pregnancy prevention has been cited as an anti-truancy strategy [2].
     
  • Student achievement is adversely affected by pregnancy and parenting [1].
     
  • The achievement gap for minority students may be exacerbated by teen pregnancy and parenting [3].
     
  • The cycle repeats: children of teen mothers often struggle in school, and daughters of teen mothers face high odds of teen childbearing [4].

What role can schools play in prevention?

Teen pregnancy is a complex problem that will not be solved by schools alone, nor will it be solved by evidence-based programs alone. However, EBPs have been shown to be effective in reducing certain sexual behaviors that lead to pregnancy and/or HIV/STDs. By offering young people the opportunity to learn about sexual health, ask questions, and practice prevention skills (such as ways to refuse sex), schools can play a critical role in a community's larger prevention effort.

Approaching Schools

Advocating for Sexual Health Education

Sex education is a subject that raises passions and can generate controversy. Becoming well-versed in the local need to address teen pregnancy and STDs/HIV, as well as the contribution that your program can make, will help you counter fears.
  • Your program is needed: all CAPP and PREP programs are in communities with higher-than-average teen pregnancy and/or STD/HIV rates.
     
  • Your program is evidence-based: it has demonstrated results.
     
  • Research has established that sex education does NOT cause youth to start having sex or, if they are already sexually active, to have more sex.
     
  • Most parents support sex education in the schools.
This Q&A for the school community (PDF; Word format) may help you explain the use of sex education EBPs. Use it as is, or adapt and transfer content to your agency letterhead.

Making the Case to Administrators

Principals or superintendents will have the authority to bring CAPP and PREP into the schools, and you will need to document their approval. When approaching schools, be prepared:

Understand the school environment. When approaching or working with schools, it helps to have basic knowledge of the demands on schools. Coming in with background information will help, but it's especially important to listen and ask questions about the local situation.

Make the local case. Knowing your local teen pregnancy and adolescent sexual health statistics will make your case stronger. CAPP and PREP grants were awarded in communities that are struggling with these issues. Compare your local statistics with statewide numbers. This template (Word) and sample handout (Word) may help.

Show administrators the benefits to schools. To help you make your case, this Handout for Administrators (PDF; Word format) can be used as is or adapted and transferred to your agency's letterhead. By working with CAPP or PREP, schools can:

Collaborate for successful implementation. Explain the key requirements of the EBP you are using. You may need to negotiate for certain activities (see CAPP and PREP Shared Resources for tips) and you will likely need to plan ahead to adjust to classroom periods.

Approaching Teachers

Gaining the support of teachers is a crucial step. Teachers can make the difference between an effective experience and a challenging program cycle. They can play a critical role in planning, introducing the program to students positively, and assisting with basic classroom management. Their knowledge of students and classroom dynamics is invaluable. It is important to take the time to orient teachers to the program: some teachers may not be supportive of sexual health education; some may not understand the teaching strategies of EBPs.

This Teacher Letter Template (Word) can be adapted to your needs. It is designed to be sent to teachers once an administrator has approved EBP implementation.

Resources

Visit CAPP and PREP Shared Resources for more ideas! Are you willing to share? Please send us the materials you are using in your work with schools! We will continue to post materials on the Shared Resources page.

References

[1]   Shuger, L. (2012). Teen Pregnancy and High School Dropout: What Communities are Doing to Address These Issues (PDF). Washington, DC: The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and America's Promise Alliance.
 
[2]   California Department of Education. (2000). School Attendance Improvement Handbook (PDF).
 
[3]   Basch, C. E. (2011). Teen pregnancy and the achievement gap among urban minority youth. Journal of School Health, 81(10), 614-618.
 
[4]   Meade, C. S., Kershaw, T. S., & Ickovics, J. R. (2008). The intergenerational cycle of teenage motherhood: An ecological approach. Health Psychology, 27(4) doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.4.419