By Robin Summers and Dana Thomas
Senior Policy Directors, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
In a time of steep budget cuts, Title X-funded family planning centers have developed innovative ways to best utilize their limited resources to reach populations most in need. Family planning providers in different regions across the country have changed their business models and marketing strategies to reach more teens and promote teen pregnancy prevention. Here are two examples to consider:
In 2003, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (SC Campaign) began a partnership to increase public awareness of teen pregnancy and DHEC family planning services. The partnership was particularly vital in Spartanburg County where, in 2005, the SC Campaign stepped in to save the DHEC Tobias Teen Health Center from being closed due to budget cuts. Through community outreach, the SC Campaign successfully secured funding to keep the center running. The following year, the campaign procured additional funds to renovate the center. The health center was re-branded as a teen-friendly space and a youth council was created and trained by a national organization to increase the social media presence for the center. Tobias soon experienced a complete turnaround. Within one year, services increased by 85 percent. Tobias has since expanded its space and hours, and even secured funding from a community foundation to dispense long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which directly contributed to a 14 percent increase of LARC use among female teens in the county in FY 2011-12.
Venus/Family Planning Services, in Des Moines, Iowa, has been creating new approaches to market to teens, understanding the nuances of this generation. In 2012, Venus planned and hosted its first teen-centered event called Teen Talk to educate local teens about pressing social issues and spread the word about services offered by the health center, which include contraceptive dispensation and counseling. To build strong community partnerships and dispel myths about family planning and reproductive health, Venus reached into the community for financial support. A larger 2013 event is planned. Venus made the interior of its health center teen-friendly, with posters and art projects. Most of the Venus marketing materials include a Facebook logo, a QR code for smart phone scanning to its website, and other ways teens can connect via social media. Venus also markets its Teen Talk event and health services via social media and radio ads on popular stations – some paid, some donated. Venus has since seen an increase in its teen patient population, and reports that efforts to educate, engage, and provide care to these patients is helping to prevent teen pregnancy.
Publicly funded family planning providers understand that to fulfill a key component of the Title X mission, prevent teen pregnancy, and enable young people to achieve their educational and life goals, they must make new efforts to meet teens on their level through forward-thinking marketing strategies and inventive community partnerships.
The National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), founded in 1971, is a nonprofit membership organization established to ensure access to voluntary, comprehensive, and culturally sensitive family planning and reproductive health care services and to support reproductive freedom for all. For more information, visit nationalfamilyplanning.org.