Different Programs Do Help Reduce Teen Pregnancy Rates
"When a kid enters our program at 11, 12, or 13, we generally work with them until they graduate from high school," Carrera tells WebMD. "We see these kids almost every day, 12 months a year. And if they don't show up, we go and find them. There is a person on staff whose sole job is to track kids once they are in the program."
Program officials also released their own report Wednesday, outlining the findings from a three-year evaluation of six New York City sites and six sites in other urban areas. There were one-third fewer pregnancies and births among the 941 program participants than among a control group. Young girls in the program were also found to be able to avoid coercive sexual situations better than those who did not participate in the program.
"That is a stunning outcome, because it can easily impact a young woman's sexuality for the rest of her life," Carrera says. "If you can help a young woman withstand coercive sexual pressure, you may be influencing how she deals with sexual pressure from then on."
The Carrera program, while effective, is also expensive -- about $4,000 per year per child. It is funded entirely through private contributions, with the largest grants coming from the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City and Michigan's Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
"The federal government has basically stayed away from programs that provide reproductive healthcare services that include contraception," Carrera says. "I would urge them to take a very careful look at this study and what we do. Without equivocation it indicates that we do know how to prevent teen pregnancy, and the government needs to have the will to enact it."