(Washington, DC) – The District of Columbia’s Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced that DHS has been awarded a $1.559M grant to further DHS’ efforts to provide school-based support to its pregnant and parenting teens. The goal of the grant is to increase attendance and graduation rates among pregnant and parenting teens, while also increasing public awareness about the availability of supports and resources for pregnant and parenting teens.
The grant will fund the expansion of the New Heights program into 14 new schools within the District of Columbia. New Heights is an innovative program whose mission is to inspire inner-city youth to be leaders, champions and student-athletes and to empower them to be successful in high school, college and life. The New Heights Teen Parent Program model is unique in that it is located in and run by DC Public Schools.
“DHS welcomes the opportunity to connect the critical services of several District agencies to provide comprehensive, wrap-around support to pregnant and parenting students, and within their existing school environment,” said Clarence H. Carter, Director, DHS.
The District proposes expanding the New Heights program to both public and charter high schools. Schools will be prioritized based on their numbers of pregnant and parenting students and the existing resources in the school and neighboring community. Program coordinators will be placed at the highest needs schools.
These coordinators will be the “school-based pregnant and parenting teen experts,” the link between the students, school staff and the community-based service providers. They will work closely with the numerous community-based organizations and programs and connect students in need with available resources. An additional coordinator will be assigned to work with students in out-of-home placements. For those schools with fewer than 10 pregnancies per year, an existing school staff person will be selected, trained and paid a stipend to be the school-based liaison for pregnant and parenting students.
DHS is partnering with DC Public Schools (DCPS), Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), Department of Health (DOH) and Public Charter School Board (PCSB), to administer the program and will use the funds to expand its current New Heights model.
The project will have specific desired outcomes:
- Increased school attendance rates;
- Increased high school graduation rates among pregnant and parenting teens;
- Decreased repeat pregnancies among pregnant and parenting teens;
- Increased public/community awareness and support for pregnant and parenting teens increased knowledge of information about available resources.
The District of Columbia proposes to expand the current New Heights model by:
- Conducting a thorough assessment of student needs and community resources;
- Placing well-trained and knowledgeable coordinators in the highest needs public and charter schools;
- Implementing a process for approving community-based providers to offer workshops and/or case management services in the schools;
- Developing a coordinated system in which public and private agencies work collaboratively to exchange information, share best practices, communicate regarding individual students and deal with programmatic issues;
- Informing and educating the public about the issues facing pregnant and parenting teens via a public awareness campaign;
- Informing and educating consumers about available resources in the community via a public education campaign;
- Creating a manageable and user-friendly data collection and reporting system;
- Developing and signing a Memorandum of Agreement among all partners regarding the sharing of information;
- Planning and implementing staff development opportunities for all involved staff and administrators.
About the Department of Human Services
The mission of the Department of Human Services (DHS) is to coordinate and provide a range of services that collectively create the enabling conditions for economic and socially challenged residents of the District of Columbia to enhance their quality of life and achieve greater degrees of self-sufficiency.