The Mary Black Foundation announced today that Spartanburg County has again reduced its teen birth rate. The newest data from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that, in 2018, the rate of teen births in Spartanburg County was 21.5 per 1,000 teens ages 15-19.
Spartanburg’s Commitment to Reducing the Teen Birth Rate
Since 2008, the teen birth rate across Spartanburg County has dropped by nearly 63%. In 2008, 606 children were born to teen parents and in 2018 that number dropped to only 225 children. This reduction has not only resulted in improvements in educational, social, and health outcomes for Spartanburg’s youth, but it has also saved county taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.
The significant decline over time is the result of intensive, multi-year efforts by many organizations in Spartanburg County to connect youth to high quality health education in school-based and community-based settings, ensure access to effective contraception, and serve young people with positive youth development programs that give them hope and vision for their future.
Spartanburg’s youth serving organizations have been working to decrease teen pregnancy for more than a decade. Since 2014, the Mary Black Foundation has managed a federally funded initiative, Connect, which is working with these organizations to integrate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention strategies into a positive youth development framework. “By building a collaborative of amazing youth serving organizations, medical professionals, and school districts that are focused on achieving outcomes for youth, Spartanburg County has been able to reduce its teen birth rate below the state average (21.5 vs. 22.0),” said Polly Edwards-Padgett, the Foundation’s Adolescent Health Program Director. “This is a major accomplishment, considering how far we have come, but there is still work to be done if we seek to be lower than the national rate (18.8 in 2017).” While the federal grant will end in June 2020, teen pregnancy prevention remains a priority issue for the community because it is a critical community indicator that is linked to educational attainment, workforce development, and economic mobility.
Improving Adolescent Health
One of the ways the Connect initiative is improving adolescent health is by providing training and capacity building for those who work with young people. On August 16, Connect and The Spartanburg School District Consortium to Improve Adolescent Health will host an Adolescent Health Conference. The goal of the conference is to equip those who work with Spartanburg’s teens with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to help our young people achieve positive health outcomes. The one-day conference will kick off with a keynote from Dr. David Walsh, nationally recognized author of Why Do They Act That Way. Attendees will have the chance to participate in a variety of workshops ranging from mental health, substance abuse, healthy relationships, developing rapport with youth, youth engagement techniques, and more. In addition, attendees will hear from a diverse group of Spartanburg County youth in a panel discussion.
The conference will be held on August 16, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The cost to attend is only $30 and includes all conference materials and lunch. If you work with adolescents and would like to attend, visit ConnectSpartanburg.org/adolescent-health-conferenceto register.