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 Preconception Health & Adolescents Action Learning Collaboratives


Action Learning Collaboratives (ALCs), historically called Action Learning Labs (ALLs), are intensive training programs that bring diverse agencies and programs together to tackle priority issues in maternal and child health. AMCHP has conducted ALLs/ALCs since 1996 on a range of topics and since 2003 has used this approach for trainings and technical assistance related to adolescent reproductive and sexual health.  The ALC is based on the notion of building a learning community, a quality improvement methodology used extensively to make organizational improvements and system changes. The programs are designed to promote collaboration at the state level to improve programs and policies. ALCs help multidisciplinary teams analyze a problem in maternal and child health, identify resources, learn how to apply problem-solving techniques to that issue, review evidence and promising practices and create and implement a plan to address the problem. 

Project Information

Public health efforts have focused for so long on preventing pregnancy among adolescents that the idea of promoting preconception health strategies with this population may seem to be a curious notion. Yet, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the sexual and reproductive health of U.S. adolescents and young adults is no longer improving.  Some of the key findings from the report are:

·        Women younger than 20 years of age had a total of about 745,000 pregnancies in 2004.

·        HIV/AIDS was present in about 22,000 youth aged 10 to 24 years in 33 states in 2006.

·        Chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis was present in about 1 million youth aged 10 to 24 years in 2006.

·        During 2003 to 2004, 25% of women 15 to 19 years of age and 45% of those 20 to 24 years of age had evidence of human papilloma virus infection.

·        During 2004 to 2006, about 105,000 women 10 to 24 years of age were seen at a hospital emergency department for nonfatal sexual assault injury.[1]

Improving preconception health, however, is not just about improving reproductive health or pregnancy outcomes – it is about improving health outcomes.  Many public health programs are recognizing that health trajectories, including reproductive health, are developed over the course of a lifetime and health behaviors initiated during adolescence can have a great impact not only on future reproductive outcomes, but also on present and future health. 

AMCHP’s Adolescent Health and Women’s Health Teams, in partnership with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), began work to bridge the gap between women’s and adolescent preventive health efforts through an Action Learning Collaborative. The overall goal of the Preconception Health and Adolescents Action Learning Collaborative (PHA ALC) is to work with state Title V programs to build partnerships and create strategies that focus on wellness across the lifespan.

State teams from Missouri, Oregon, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Utah – composed of state departments of health and education staff, members of community-based organizations, youth leaders, and other key stakeholders – came together for an intensive meeting in November 2009 to develop goals and strategies to integrate the CDC’s Preconception Care Guidelines into adolescent health initiatives. The 18-month project aims at building a foundation for the development and implementation of innovative efforts around this topic. The state teams identified common priorities and established goals, such as: educating and motivating teens to choose and practice healthy behaviors now and in the future so that there will be healthy pregnancies, healthy babies, and healthy families; developing a model policy for integrating youth with disabilities in preconception health efforts; and developing strategies to integrate preconception health concepts into the department of education core health curriculum. AMCHP and ASTHO are committed to supporting these teams and working to disseminate information about the strategies, successes, and challenges, so that other states can learn from this cutting edge work. This project is funded by AMCHP's cooperative agreements from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH) and Division of Reproductive Health (CDC-DRH), and HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau with additional support from Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), with funding from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD).

Preconception Health Videos

  • To view the Missouri sequence video, click here
  • To view the Ohio sequence video, click here
  • To view the Oregon sequence video, click here
  • To view the Pennsylvania sequence video, click here
  • To view the South Carolina sequence video, click here
  • To view the Utah sequence video, click here

Collateral Materials:

RFA Deadline: Applications were due on September 4, 2009.

The responses from the RFA Question & Answer Call on Monday, August 17, 2009 can be found here:

Questions from the RFA QA (2).doc

For Additional Information: For additional information or questions regarding this announcement, or the Preconception Health for Adolescents project, contact Sharron Corle at

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10 -24 Years – United States, 2002-2007