MINNEAPOLIS — There is an unmistakable message in the latest numbers released by Hennepin County Pubic Health officials: Teens are listening, and the county's pregnancy prevention program is working.
In 2018, 339 teens gave birth in Hennepin County, down 21 percent from the year before and far fewer than the 1,170 babies born to teenagers in 2007. The Public Health Department says many factors have contributed to the drop in teen births, but much of the credit is given to the teen pregnancy prevention program Better Together Hennepin, which began in 2006.
Funded by a combination of federal grants and money from the state and county, the pregnancy prevention initiative provides a wide range of programming options meant to help teens:
- Care and advocate for their own health and well-being, with knowledge of a range of options from abstinence to safer sex
- Become educated about their bodies and have access to sexual health information
- Connect with a caring adult who can answer questions and provide guidance
- Plan for, and embark on their futures before becoming parents
"Preventing teen pregnancies is a very high priority for Hennepin County, and our work has been strikingly successful,” said Hennepin County Board Member Mike Opat. “We all know that teens are not ready to become parents. This progress is the best kind of prevention work we do in county government.”
There is more good news in the bigger picture: On a national level, studies suggest that fewer teens are having sex, and that more of them who are sexually active use contraceptives.
'Better Together Hennepin' relies on community partners like schools, clinics and nonprofits to deliver information and services to the young people served by the program. The work is made possible by a $1.5 million federal grant from the Office of Population Affairs. The grant expires in June 2020. After that, Better Together Hennepin's funding future is unknown.