Teen Pregnancy Alliance Announces Initiative

The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy has announced a collaborative effort to drastically reduce teen pregnancy rates in Springfield and Holyoke.

Reduce the teen birth rate by 10 percent over the next 5 years. That's the goal of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy, which has teamed with Holyoke and Springfield schools, hospitals and clinics in a five year initiative funded by a federal grant. Patricia Quinn is the executive director of the Alliance.

"Instead of giving $100,000 to five organizations to do some particular program, we're going to give different smaller amounts of money to 50 organizations to increase 50 organizations' capacity to do evidence-based programming."

The alliance will give a total of $500,000 in the coming year for programs ranging from sexual education classes in schools to a Youth Leadership Institute offered to teenage girls and boys in the summer. Quinn says for the first time the alliance is working with the YWCA, Mercy Hospital, River Valley Counseling, and others.

"We have begun our first clinic collaborative, with 5 key health providers serving adolescents in the communities of Springfield and Holyoke."

According to Alliance data, Holyoke has had the highest teen birth rate in Massachusetts for the past 7 years. In 2010 there were 97 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 in Holyoke. That's almost 5 times the statewide rate. Springfield's rate last year was 72 births per 1000 women age 15 to 19.

The grant will also target so-called "high priority" youth, BY increasing access to birth control, abstinence and healthy relationship education, and promoting community involvement.