OCO OPTIONS Receives Research Grant

Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
Fulton, NY – Thanks to a grant through the J.M. McDonald Foundation, Oswego County Opportunities OPTIONS program will be able to continue research that it began in 2010 regarding pregnant and parenting teens in Oswego County.

Two years into what was to be a five-year federal grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, OCO received notification that grant was suspended due to budgetary reasons.

The US Department of Health and Human Services grant initially allowed OCO to expand the OPTIONS program, and through collaboration with the local company, Equi-jem, began a research project to collect and study data regarding the most successful techniques to ensure that teen mothers deliver healthy babies and are prepared to parent effectively.

The $5,000 grant that the OCO OPTIONS program received from the J.M. McDonald Foundation, will allow OPTIONS to complete some of that research.

“One of the goals of OPTIONS is to build partnerships that improve the quality of life and create successful communities.  Our collaboration with Equi-jem on this project is an excellent example of that,” said OPTIONS Coordinator, Linda Eagan.  “Oswego County has experienced major economic challenges making it difficult to provide the resources needed to support teens and their children.”

Pregnant and parenting adolescents in Oswego County have higher health and education risks than our surrounding counties.

OPTIONS provides these teens with counseling and education in the areas of pregnancy, pre and post-natal care, labor and delivery, parenting, nutrition, mental health, family planning, job preparation, continuing education support, tutoring, mental health counseling, nutrition, and decision making and life skills.

Eagan said that in 2010 OPTIONS began a rigorous study of its services in order to isolate the influencing factors that lead to improved outcomes, thereby identifying best practices for on-going services.

OCO worked with Equi-jem researchers, Ed Lonky & Jacqueline Reihman of the SUNY Oswego Psychology Department to study participants in the OPTIONS program and design protocols for service delivery and data collection.

“We established one control group and one experimental group. While both groups received quality services the experimental group received enhanced services offering more intervention with the families and more frequent meetings. With the grant ending in only the second year, we were not able to fully extrapolate all of the data we had hoped for.  The grant from the J.M. McDonald Foundation allows us to complete the research on several families so that we may evaluate and discern the differences in outcomes for pregnant and parenting youth in the control group with those in the experimental group,” explained Eagan.

Using a curriculum based on Florida State University’s Partners for a Healthy Baby OPTIONS promotes well-being for Oswego County teens that are pregnant or parenting.  Through education and advocacy, case workers ensure the health of the youth and the baby as they assist youth in obtaining services from other agencies, provide supportive counseling to assist their transition to parenthood, and help them grow personally as they help them develop parenting skills.

“We are excited to have selected as a recipient of the J.M. McDonald Foundation grant and looking forward to continuing our research and providing pregnant and parenting teens in Owego County with the vital services they need to be a successful parent,” added Eagan.

In addition to the J.M. McDonald Foundation, OPTIONS is funded by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)-Grant# APH PA 00111-01; Maternal and Early Childhood Foundation Inc. (MECF); Oswego City/County Youth Bureau (SDPP); the United Way and Community Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Services (CAPP). OCO, Inc is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.

A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.

For more information, visit www.oco.org