Two federal teen pregnancy prevention funding issues that will have a major and negative impact on Oklahoma need your attention:
1) TPP grants terminated early: The Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) projects, administered by the HHS Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), have been notified their grants will end June 2018 — in year 3, instead of completing the 5 years awarded. This early and unexpected termination means the loss of nearly $8 million in Oklahoma for the final two-year period. These grants support TPP initiatives in Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, led by the Oklahoma City-County Health Dept. and Youth Services of Tulsa, along with a multi-county project in S.E. Oklahoma directed by the Choctaw Nation. The funding is invested in evidence-based programs with documented effectiveness that reach over 10,000 Oklahoma youth annually.
2) TPP funding eliminated in the FY18 budget: On July 13, the House Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), passed an FY18 budget on a party-line vote. The bill totally eliminated both the OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and the Title X Family Planning Program that provides contraception for low-income families. On July 19, the full House Appropriations Committee failed to restore funding for the two important prevention programs. The next step is the Senate subcommittee and full committee; those meetings have not been scheduled yet and it’s not clear when they will be. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) serves on the Senate Labor HHS, Education subcommittee.
Why elimination of TPP funding and Title X funding hurts our state:
- Oklahoma has had the second highest (worst) teen birth rate in the nation in recent years.
- Over one-third of all OK teen births occur in Oklahoma County and Tulsa County; both counties have zip codes with some of the highest teen birth rates in the state. Communities served by the TPP grant in S.E. Oklahoma also have high teen birth rates.
- The major teen pregnancy prevention efforts in our state are funded, in large part, by the federal TPP grants. No state dollars have been provided for teen pregnancy prevention in well over a decade. Severe state budget cuts to education have eliminated health and prevention programs in schools.
- The federal TPP Program supports a wide variety of models with evidence of effectiveness, including those that focus on abstinence, those that address both abstinence and contraception, and youth development approaches. Communities can choose interventions that best meet the needs of different young people, at different points in their lives. The TPP grants focus on evidence and results, rather than ideology and mandating a single approach for all youth.
- For over 40 years, the Title X family planning program has been one of the major public health success stories in our country.
- Preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy is key to improving the health, education, and economic well-being of Oklahoma’s young people and families.
Let your voice be heard:
It’s important that Oklahomans who care about these issues contact their Congressional representatives and staff ASAP — and encourage others to do the same.
For information on the federal FY18 budget process and latest updates, check the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Federal Policy Action Center.
For Oklahoma teen birth factsheets and program resources, check: www.healthyteensok.org. For other teen pregnancy prevention information, contact Sharon Rodine, Youth Initiatives Director at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (firstname.lastname@example.org).