The nonprofit SHIFT NC has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control to help health centers coordinate and improve services for teens in Durham.
The Bull City's pregnancy rate is above the state average.
SHIFT NC spokeswoman Elizabeth Finley says the new initiative is called All Together Now: Making Health and Referral Systems Work for Young People. She says it goes a step further than most teen sexual health and pregnancy prevention efforts, which traditionally focus on education alone.
"It's still really important that they're getting basic education. It's still really important that we've got programs in the community for young people who are at high risk. But this fills in that clinic gap so that when a young person tries to act on the knowledge that they've gained, they're going to a place that understands the needs that teens have."
Finley says they're working to train community groups on local resources available to teens. Finley says not all medical centers offer the same services.
"So that when they have a young person who's trying to avoid a pregnancy or who needs some kind of testing or treatment for a potential STD, or needs some kind of health service, they know the providers in Durham who can meet those needs."
Finley says the group is also training medical professionals on the best practices for working with teens.
"Helping young people feel comfortable in knowing that their information is private, or helping providers counsel to more effective contraception methods, if that's something a patient is open to."
SHIFT NC reports a wide racial disparity in pregnancy rates among young women, ages 15-19 in Durham:
- 11 in 1,000 white teens become pregnant.
- 46 in 1,000 African American teens become pregnant.
- 88 in 1,000 Hispanic teens become pregnant.
North Carolina Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham) says he's excited about this SHIFT NC's work. He recently sponsored an unsuccessful bill that would expand the purview of school based clinics in Durham, allowing high schools to counsel students on STDs and pregnancy prevention and issue contraception.
Woodard says he thinks All Together Now referral program will be especially helpful to local minority communities, because SHIFT NC is focusing training efforts at clinics in with large minority populations.
SHIFT NC Spokeswoman Elizabeth Finley says the federal funding for All Together Now will last five years.
A SHIFT NC statement says this initiative builds on key lessons from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project from Washington University in St. Louis and Colorado’s highly successful teen pregnancy program, which reduced teen pregnancies 40 percent in five years.