Oklahoma’s teen birth rate is the third highest in the nation, and Oklahoma County has the highest number of teen births in the state.
Pregnancy and parenting among teens results in greater risks of poverty, health issues, unstable housing and employment, and food insecurity. Teen pregnancy prevention is a key strategy in the reduction of poverty.
Our collaboration, formed in 2012, created a bold vision to reduce the teen birth rate in Oklahoma County by one third by 2020. In 2015, the collaboration published a comprehensive plan to achieve this goal. The plan outlines three key strategies to reduce teen pregnancy, garnered from research and visits to communities with proven programs that significantly reduced their teen birth rates.
The three pillars outlined in the plan are Education, Medical and Community. Through the Education pillar, the goal is to provide age-appropriate, evidence-based sexual health education in schools with the highest teen birth rates. The Medical pillar’s goal is to ensure access to teen friendly reproductive health services. And finally, the Community pillar’s goal is to engage youth, parents, faith communities and youth-serving organizations in teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
The collaboration’s key partners include the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, the OKC-County Health Department, OKC Public Schools, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Teen emPower!, and Variety Care. However, dozens of community organizations and individuals are working together to help achieve the goals of the plan through working groups, which support the three pillars.
Following a collective impact model, a backbone organization – Thrive (formerly the Central Oklahoma Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy) – was formed to provide leadership and vision to the collaboration, and is now seeking broad community support to ensure our work is sustainable.
The collaboration has already achieved exciting results.The teen birth rate in Oklahoma County has declined 38 percent from 2013 to 2017. We know this coordinated, comprehensive strategy is working.
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