NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force
Preventing Teen Pregnancy in Northeast Florida: A Plan for Community Action
In November 2011, the Task Force released “Preventing Teen Pregnancy in Northeast Florida: A Plan for Community Action” after a year of monthly meetings, reviewing best practices and selecting strategies. The plan was approved by the Healthy Start Coalition Board of Directors on November 17, 2011.
The Coalition awarded two rounds of mini-grants to Northeast Florida agencies to implement specific strategies outlined in the NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force community action plan to reduce teen pregnancy and births in the region. Funding for the program was provided by the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation and Florida Blue.
The Task Force Process
The Task Force was created in October 2010 to address the high rate of teenage pregnancy and births in Northeast Florida and determine effective methods of prevention, particularly around repeat teen births. Task force membership includes Coalition volunteers; representatives from agencies and organizations that serve adolescents; adolescent health care providers; school systems; youth-serving organizations; teens and other interested organizations.
The Task Force identified key activities to conduct: assess regional and county-specific needs; identify and adapt strategies based on evidence-based programs implemented in other areas; strengthen and increase effectiveness of existing Healthy Start, school- and community-based services; and develop additional services to address identified gaps.
Teenage mothers and their babies are consistently linked with poor health and socioeconomic outcomes. Babies born to teenage mothers are more likely to be born premature and have low birth weight. These mothers are least likely of all maternal age groups to receive prenatal care, at a higher risk for pregnancy complications, are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to live in poverty.
Teen birth rates have reached historic lows. Teen parents make up a smaller portion of new mothers and fewer teen parents are having subsequent births before leaving their teens. However, the work is not done. Across the United States, nearly 25 percent of girls will get pregnant before the age of 20. Locally, many young teens still experience primary and repeat teen pregnancies, particularly in minority communities and among certain high-risk populations.
The rate of births to teenagers in the United States is still high and affects different ethnic and racial groups disparately. In Northeast Florida, black and other nonwhite teens have babies at a significantly higher rate than white mothers.
Youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system are also high-risk groups for teen pregnancy and births. Nationally, teen parenting is a concern for youth in the juvenile justice system.
Teen mothers still account for a larger proportion of poor birth outcomes. One out of every ten mothers who receives late or no prenatal care is a teen mother. These mothers are also more likely to deliver low birth weight and pre-term babies.