The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families has awarded Girls Inc. of Dallas, a nonprofit that prepares girls and young women for personal and professional success, $240,000 per year for three years to develop, implement and evaluate a comprehensive pregnancy and STI prevention program. The three-year project, Girls Getting Ready! (GGR!), will be delivered by staff with at least one bi-lingual member and with bi-lingual materials in Girls Inc.’s four campuses in West and South Dallas, North Oak Cliff, and Love Field. The curriculum will consist of two age-appropriate modules, “I’m Making a Difference” (IMAD) for girls in grades 5 to 8, and “Reducing My Risk” (RMR) for grades 9 to 12.
The project addresses the critical need for effective teen pregnancy prevention programming in the Dallas-area. The most recent County Health Rankings and Roadmaps study shows that Dallas County has a birth rate of 76 per 1,000 women ages 15-19, in a state ranked the fourth highest in teen birth rate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The children of teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school, have more health problems, be incarcerated at some time during adolescence, give birth as teenagers, and face unemployment as young adults, says the CDC.
“These unsettling statistics clearly illustrate the need to equip Dallas-area girls with the information, skills, and competencies to avoid teen pregnancy and STIs, complete high school, go to college, and pursue careers of their choice,” noted Lori Palmer, Girls Inc. of Dallas CEO. “We conducted a brief community survey and discovered that there are no comprehensive, evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs available, only resources adapted for specific audiences. With the help of our community partners, we are well-positioned to address this gap and establish the evidence-based Girls Getting Ready! program well beyond its three-year grant cycle.”
Palmer continued, “Girls Inc. has a strong history of providing pregnancy prevention programs based on a research-based Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy (PAP) curriculum. The project is a natural extension of our mission to arm girls and young women with the work and life competencies needed to be successful and economically independent.”
To ensure the successful execution of the program, Girls Inc. has recruited high-quality community partners. Among them is Texas Woman’s University, serving as the program evaluation partner. Dr. Mandy Golman, assistant professor in the Department of Health Studies in the College of Health Sciences at Texas Woman’s University will measure the program’s process and outcomes to ensure it meets its objectives.
“We are so excited about this project,” said Dr. Golman. “Girls Inc. is a natural place to implement such a comprehensive pregnancy prevention program. We look forward to the prospect of this program serving as a national evidence-based model for the reduction of adolescent pregnancy.”
In addition to Texas Woman’s University, the following program partners will help Girls Inc. with the successful execution of the program by bringing expertise in behavioral health and adolescent reproductive health education, including medical accuracy, gender norms, and responsiveness and sensitivity to a racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse community:
- Salesmanship Club Youth and Family Centers (SCYFC): The organization provides behavioral-health services to at-risk youth and their families. Under the guidance of Bret Baldwin, PhD, Director of Therapeutic Services, SCYFC will serve as a behavioral health resource for girls and will train staff on critical behavioral health issues.
- Linda Holmes-Latimer, RN-BC: A veteran in women’s health. She is board-certified and a nurse practitioner at the Parkland Health and Hospital System and will provide training and technical assistance to the staff for the medical accuracy of the program.
- True Child: This action tank promotes transformative approaches to reproductive health and gender-based violence. A national team led by Executive Director Riki Wilchins will train Girls Inc. staff on gender norms and reproductive health.
With the help of its community partners, Girls Inc. will use the federal funding to create and deliver an enduring program model to serve Dallas-area girls and families in future years.