The Trump administration has cut off grants that fund teen pregnancy prevention programs and research their effectiveness, Reveal reports.
Leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services, who have publicly favored an abstinence-based approach to sex education, sent letters to recipients to inform them of their decision to end funding early on the five-year grants, which go to 81 organizations around the country, according to the reports.
Those letters, which looked like routine annual grant renewal letters, said funding for the projects would end in 2018, not 2020 as originally planned. And a grant for a group of five organizations that were one year into their reseach was ended immediately, the report says.
Congress had approved $101 million for the third year of the grants in May, Reveal reports, but the president’s budget proposal did not call for any funding of the program in fiscal year 2018. According to Reveal:
Among the programs that lost their funding: the Choctaw Nation's efforts to combat teen pregnancy in Oklahoma, Johns Hopkins' work with adolescent Apaches in Arizona, the University of Texas' guidance for youth in foster care, the Chicago Department of Public Health's counseling and testing for sexually transmitted infections and the University of Southern California's workshops for teaching parents how to talk to middle school kids about delaying sexual activity. The elimination of two years of funding for the five-year projects shocked the professors and community health officials around the country who run them. Health officials say cutting off money midway through multi-year research projects is highly unusual and wasteful because it means there can be no scientifically valid findings. The researchers will not have the funds to analyze data they have spent the past two years collecting or incorporate their findings into assistance for teens and their families."
Births to American teenagers have continued a pattern of decline, dropping 40 percent in the last decade, federal data show. But the U.S. teen pregnancy rate is still “substantially higher” than in other western, industrialized nations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year. Birth rates are higher for black, Hispanic, and Native American teens.
Many of the teen pregnancy grants set to end early target those groups.
I’ve asked the Department of Health and Human Services for comment and I will update this post if I get a response.
Related reading on teen pregnancy, sex education:
- Sex Education Programs Fall Short of CDC Recommendations in Many States
- Fact-Checking John Oliver on Sex Education (Spoiler: He Was Accurate)
- Website and Review Identify Sex-Ed. Programs with Proven Track Records
- Teen Birthrate in Rural Communities Outpaces Urban, National Average
- One in Five Teen Moms Gives Birth Again in Teen Years
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.