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Engaging New Partners to Promote Reproductive Life Planning Among Young Adults in the Southeast US

Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH Erin K. McClain, MA, MPH UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health
Throughout the Reproductive Life Course: Opportunities and Challenges for Empowering Girls and Women April 2-3, 2014

Every Woman Southeast Coalition


Leaders in nine states who seek to build multistate, multi-layered partnerships to improve the health of women and infants in the Southeast.

Engage a wide range of stakeholders to build and sustain an equity focused, life course approach to womens wellness Promote and integrate program and policy strategies to support low income women and men in creating and actualizing their reproductive and life goals

Give voice to the ideas, needs and vision of women in our region

Our Call to Action


Tired of always being the worst states in the nation Decided we can no longer ignore our legacy of health

Recognized that to get different results we needed to

change the way we approach this work

Desire to connect across states

Desire to give voice to grass tip leadership

Reproductive Life Planning Projects


8 pilot projects in 7 states investigated

using a life course approach to disseminate evidence-based preconception health and reproductive life planning information
All of the projects had teams that were

interdisciplinary and included at least one non-health sector partner

Project themes:

Peer Education Community Linkages Media and Communications

Funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Reproductive Life Planning


A reproductive life plan

Common evidence-based

(RLP) is a set of personal goals about having or not having children

RLP can support:

components include:

Pregnancy intendedness Contraceptive method matching for increased satisfaction and adherence Personal goals

Desire to have children Age Educational and career goals Financial stability Partner relationship and social support Current health status and behaviors Genetic and environmental factors

Peer Education for the Soul Jacksonville, FL


Local health department provided training and support to young adult Peer Health Advisors (PHAs) from 3 churches to address RLP and preconception health for 16-24 year olds at church and surrounding neighborhoods. 28 PHAs engaged 1,821 youth /young adults

Topics included:
Healthy relationships Safe sex/ preventing STIs Having a reproductive life plan Career choices Changing risky behaviors

Choices - Memphis, TN

Two-pronged approach:

Revamped post-abortion counseling to shift away from solely contraceptive methods counseling to true reproductive life planning
Strengthened referral process to and from local community agencies that address social and economic needs of clients

Delta Health Partners Marks, MS


Provided series of trainings and

technical assistance to community agencies that work with boys and young men

Sherriffs Office, juvenile justice, local churches, middle and high school

Training topics included: Male

health needs, contraception and STIs, RLP, parenting, and communication and conflict resolution skills

Choose Today a Healthy Tomorrow! Columbia, Beaufort, & Charleston, SC


Promotores presented radio

shows on 2 Spanish language stations & provided warm referrals to community agencies

75 shows Reach = ~2,500 people per show

Topics included:

Documentary clip about the program:

Nutrition, exercise, folic acid Family Planning Using community health resources Maternal stress & depression Role of fathers in families Healthy relationships HIV/STI prevention Immigrant rights & resources

Great Plan Healthy Start New Orleans, LA


Produced and distributed Map

Your Life RLP tools for women and men Used new materials to provide comprehensive training for community groups

Worked with Bounce TV to

produce RLP-focused commercials and website:


Provided reproductive life planning information to 10,000+

young adults
Collaborated with new non-health partners including:

Churches, universities, public schools, housing and economic services agencies, media, transportation, and law enforcement

Promising Practices

Approaches found to be effective in disseminating preconception

health and reproductive life planning information included:

Faith-based organizations, universities, and public housing communities as organizational support for communicating reproductive health information to young adults Radio combined with community referrals to reach the newly-arrived Latino community Television and internet to reach the young adult African American community Systems change interventions in clinical settings to enhance existing contraceptive counseling and shift toward RLP with facilitated community referrals

Further study is needed to determine replicability across the

southeast and beyond

Lessons Learned

It is possible to promote reproductive health and

family planning, even in conservative environments

Flexible funding that requires health and non-health

sectors to partner can foster innovative projects within a variety of settings

Meaningful work on reproductive life planning can be

done without a huge budget

Monthly conference calls/webinars allowed the

projects to learn from and with each other


Sarah Verbiest 919-843-7865

Erin McClain 919-808-0989