FULTON, NY – Eric Bresee, director of Oswego County Opportunities Crisis and Development Services, has announced that OCO has recently been awarded a grant through the New York State Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, to assist OCO in addressing teen pregnancy prevention in Oswego County.
With Oswego County’s teen pregnancy rates higher than the state average and continuing to rise the innovative Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, made possible by the grant and implemented by OCO, presents an exciting opportunity to present education on teen pregnancy and other related health issues to area youth.
Through a partnership with the Fulton, Mexico and APW school districts OCO’s health educators will work side by side with high school and middle school teachers as students are presented an evidenced based curriculum that meets New York State approved requirements.
Additionally, OCO will be working closely with Cornell University to analyze data and determine the success and reach of the program.
“These collaborations are what make the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program so remarkable,” said Bresee. “This program will have a lot of structure, and having validated research conducted by Cornell University brings it to a whole new level.”
According to Bresee each partnering school district will have the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program offered in three settings; middle school, high school, and after school community setting such as drop-in centers.
Over the next few months OCO and its partners will be working to develop a successful implementation and evaluation plan for each school district.
“We will be meeting regularly to gather feedback and input regarding which evidence based practice will be the best fit and can be effectively evaluated to demonstrate its impact on reducing rates of teen pregnancy in our target areas; develop strategies to continuously review and evaluate the program’s success; and identify ways to maintain the program’s sustainability,” said Bresee.
One of the primary goals of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is to replicate evidence based practices in rural areas that have proven effective elsewhere.
“Research in rural communities is rare. We wish to demonstrate that these evidence based practices are indeed effective not only in rural school districts but also via after school and community based settings,” explained Bresee.
When implemented, the new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program will double the amount of health educators and peer educators currently on staff in OCO’s Health Education Services.
More importantly, OCO health educators will now be reaching more than double the amount of students.
“The addition of six health educators and three peer educators, combined with the involvement of the teachers can have a significant impact,” said Ellen Lazarek, Health Education Collaboration Manager with OCO Crisis and Development Services. “Engaging the teachers and having them be active participants in this program is exciting. It expands our capacity exponentially and should help to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies as well as sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C and others. Pairing teachers with OCO health educators that are available to provide health education and accurate medical information makes for a very strong resource. ”
By delivering evidence based interventions in 7th and 8th grade classes as well as 11th and 12th grade classes, teachers and OCO health educators will be able to reach most enrolled students during their middle school and high school years.
Evidence Based Interventions at community based drop-in centers will allow for further connect to out of school youth. The program’s curriculum also ensures that all students are receiving the same evidence based education.
“The structure of our new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is exciting. Having school district employees involved and engaging teachers to work in conjunction with OCO health educators will prove to have a greater impact on the students. It also ensures the sustainability of the program. With the teachers trained and comfortable with the program the potential is there for the Teen Pregnancy Program to carry on for years to come,” added Lazarek.