Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program meets Top Tier Evidence of Effectiveness

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As It Turns 25, Program Has Much to Celebrate

The Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as well as two new important developments.

The program, previously proven effective (at reducing pregnancies and births to teens) by an independent evaluator, has just been found to meet Top Tier evidence of effectiveness standards by The Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. This is an initiative, being reviewed by Congress, which identifies social program models that meet these criteria as a way to identify which programs should receive federal funds. The Children’s Aid Carrera program could potentially receive public funding for the first time in its existence as a result of this finding, meaning the program could expand greatly in coming years. (Read more.)

The program is a youth development model with multiple components* that operates in low-income communities. It has been an after-school program since its inception in 1984 in New York and recently implemented a model that is fully integrated into the school day in five public and charter schools in New York City as well as in five locations in other U.S. cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, Flint, MI). It continues as an after-school program as well at a number of New York City locations.

The Children’s Aid Carrera program works with boys and girls 11-12 years old, six days a week, fifty weeks a year, and follows them through high school and beyond. Its holistic approach empowers youth, helps them develop personal goals and the desire for a productive future, and develops their sexual literacy as well as educates them about the consequences of sexual activity.

“School principals and other education leaders are increasingly aware of the value of engaging students with this multi-faceted approach to their lives,” said Dr. Michael A. Carrera, creator and director of the program, “and are interested in having our program part of the school day. Teens have many concerns in their lives − sex is just one. Our program’s seven components seek to address all of their concerns so we can have a positive impact on their futures and lessen their desire to engage in risky behaviors. We help teens see the hope in their futures.”

According to the authors of High-Risk Sexual Behavior: Interventions with Vulnerable Populations, published in 2007, “…poverty and lack of opportunity have repeatedly been shown to be significant factors leading to teen pregnancy, so that a cycle of poverty and helplessness continues for children born into disadvantaged environments …”

The program has been independently evaluated and proven effective in reducing teen pregnancies, births to teens, and in delaying initiation of sexual activity. The new analysis by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy builds on the former evaluation.

Costs to teen, baby, society

In addition to the negative impacts of a teen’s pregnancy – teens are less likely to get prenatal care and gain appropriate weight, are more likely to drop out of school, their babies are more likely to have low birth weight, and are more at risk for infant death, blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy – society as a whole bears a financial cost for teen pregnancies. The taxpayer cost for teen pregnancies, including public assistance, housing, food stamps, health care and other costs, is nearly $7 billion every year. The taxpayer cost to provide medical care for young people who contract sexually transmitted infections is $6.5 billion. Every day, 23 babies are born to teen parents in New York City. The U.S. teen pregnancy rate, the highest in the industrial world, was 22 for every 1,000 girls in 2006, according to National Institutes of Health.

On September 30, 2009, the adolescent pregnancy prevention program celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala reception, at which the program’s creator and director, Dr. Michael A. Carrera, was the subject of a video tribute and was saluted by program graduates as well as other distinguished speakers. In addition, the celebration was attended by actress Jane Fonda, herself an adolescent pregnancy prevention advocate in the state of Georgia. She blogged about her experience at the event at http://janefonda.com/my-mentor-dr-michael-carrera/.

* The Children’s Aid Carrera program’s components include daily education, weekly career training, financial literacy and the opportunity to open bank accounts, no-cost, comprehensive medical, dental and mental health services, individual sports, creative self-expression and family life and sexuality education. Working within the framework of these components, skilled program staff help build young peoples’ capabilities and vision of a productive, successful future.