Spartanburg County has seen tremendous success in its efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. From 2010 to 2016, the teen birthrate in Spartanburg County decreased 50 percent (for all 15- to 19-year-olds) compared to the South Carolina rate of 43 percent. That progress was threatened by an unexpected and unwarranted move to terminate funding that supports programs for our youth.
Fortunately, last week a U.S. District Court judge agreed and ordered the funds be reinstated.
In 2014, the Foundation’s Connect initiative received a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through its Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Last year, despite the positive outcomes, the Foundation was informed that the grant funding would end two years early – on June 30, 2018. Because Congress had allocated funds in the 2018-2019 budget for the grants, this unusual move from HHS raised concerns and led to a class action lawsuit on behalf of over 80 grants across the country.
Last week, a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the termination of the grants was unlawful and ordered HHS to reinstate the grants. This will allow the Foundation to continue funding evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs and positive youth development activities in schools and community centers throughout Spartanburg County. Last year, almost 4,200 youth in Spartanburg County participated in at least one evidence-based program.
We are still waiting for the official funding announcement from HHS, but this is good news for the young people of Spartanburg County, who will continue to have access to programs that increase opportunities for better health, educational attainment, and economic opportunities. While Spartanburg and the rest of the nation have made tremendous progress in reducing the rate of teen births, much is still left to do in order to ensure that all adolescents have access to the education and services they need. Reinstating funding for effective programs, like Connect, is a step in the right direction.