Pomegranate became a test site for implementation of the PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program) for Foster Care and Adjudicated Youth through a grant provided by Nationwide Children’s Hospital recently. The PREP program is about reducing the risk of unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, and others. What’s unique about PREP is that it stresses the importance of healthy relationships and interactions, financial literacy, and developing skills for employment and self-sufficiency as teens face living on their own, and the need to become productive members of society. The program is oriented towards teens, who may not have had a stable family situation, or been in foster care, treatment centers, youth services, or multiple placements -which disrupted both education and access to positive adult role models. This program is effective because it is evidence-based and focuses on preparation for adulthood.
PREP is important because, as the Youth Behavior Risk Survey and the February 2012 PREP newsletter report, “Teen pregnancy rates in the US are alarmingly high. Thirty-four percent of young women become pregnant at least once before the age of 20, with most being unintended and occurring amongst unmarried teens. The pregnancy rate of young women in foster care is higher. All teen mothers experience higher rates of preterm birth, low birth weight and infant death compared to adults.” (from Newsletter 4)
You can read more about the program through the Ohio Department of Health Adolescent Education web site at: http://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/chss/ad_hlth/adhlth1.aspx. The Ohio Department of Health partnered with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and the Ohio Department of Youth to initiate a ‘train-the trainer’ program to launch PREP. The State of Ohio was divided into several regions (Central Ohio is region 9) and training partners selected in each. For teens in residential treatment centers like Pomegranate Health Systems, the PREP program is invaluable in learning the skill set to transition toward independent living. The program was initiated late summer and ran through Fall with 8 individual training modules. After a short hiatus to update materials and train additional staff, the program resumed this Winter.
At Pomegranate Health Systems, Residential Manager Tiffany says the program was well received. “The residents were afraid to talk about anything related to intimate behavior or health issues in the beginning because they felt embarrassed about the possibility of not knowing what was being discussed. After a few sessions, they opened up and were intrigued about many things they didn’t know about. The teens asked lots of questions. Things teens thought they’d learned correctly were addressed by trained staff. Residents learned how to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STD/HIV and to promote healthy relationships. Residents were empowered to say, ‘No’ when they are not ready to have sex; evaluate risks and lasting consequences of becoming an adolescent parent or becoming infected with HIV or any other STD. They also learned that a healthy relationship involves the cooperation of two positive people.” She added, “We’re very thankful for the partnership that made this program possible”.
[Photo credit: by Orangeline, Dreamstime.com 5480227]