As part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (healthcare reform), Congress authorized the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): the first federal funding stream for programs that teach about abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). PREP-funded programs must also cover at least three adult preparation subjects, such as healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, educational and career success, and healthy life skills.
PREP provides $75 million per year for five years (2010-2014). Of that, $55 million is allocated to states and $10 million is allocated to fund innovative strategies. The remainder is for tribal communities, program evaluation, and support.
I. Did my state apply for funding?
II. What if my state did not apply for 2010 PREP funding?
- Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia did not apply.
- These states have the opportunity to apply in 2011 for 2010 and 2011 funds.
- Applications and State Plans for fiscal year 2011 are due April 29, 2011.
- If a state does not apply for PREP funding for the first two years, community-based organizations can apply.
III. Why do I want PREP funds in my state?
- PREP offers a brand new opportunity—federal funding for science-based sex education that includes information on abstinence and contraception. Until this year, the only dedicated federal funding for sex education was for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. These programs censor vital information from young people, who have the right to complete, accurate information that will allow them to make informed decisions about their sexual health.
- PREP does not cost a state any money. There is no state matching grant required, as there is with Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds.
IV. What should my state do with PREP?
- Programs should target young people between the ages of 10-19.
- Programs should have as their goal the prevention of unplanned pregnancy and STIs, including HIV.
- Programs should teach about abstinence, contraception, and condoms as ways to prevent unplanned pregnancy and the transmission of STIs.
- Programs must include content on at least three adult preparation subjects, including healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, educational and career success, and healthy life skills.
- The majority of PREP funds are to go towards replication of evidence-based programs, while some states received grants to implement “innovative strategies”—programs that seem promising but have yet to be fully evaluated.
- It is encouraged that programs be inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
- PREP funding can be used to fund health teacher training and salaries, as well as curricula and materials such as workbooks or videos.
V. What might a PREP program look like?
- One state may elect to target tenth-grade students in several urban school districts. They may implement Becoming a Responsible Teen!, an evaluated, eight-session curriculum that addresses the prevention of unplanned pregnancy and HIV and STI transmission through abstinence, condoms, and contraception. It focuses on skills-building, with role-playing activities on refusal skills and condom negotiation.
- Another state may elect to use PREP to fund programs for youth in the foster care or juvenile justice system—youth whose risk for pregnancy and STIs is compounded by their likelihood to miss or drop out of school. This state may choose to implement Teen Outreach Project (TOP), a nine-month intervention that has shown success both in preventing pregnancy and school drop-out and suspension.
- Yet another state may have received PREP innovative funds with the flexibility to implement a program that seems promising, but has not yet been evaluated and published in a peer-reviewed research journal. This state may elect to target seventh-grade students throughout the state with Big Decisions, an abstinence-plus program gaining popularity in Texas. This ten-session curriculum can be downloaded for free, and contains an abstinence message alongside accurate information about condoms and contraception.
For more resources on effective, evidence-based curricula, see Advocates for Youth’s publication: Science and Success.
VI. How can I advocate for the best use of PREP funds?
- Find out what your state is planning to do with the funds. Be sure to verify that programs include comprehensive information on abstinence and contraception and condoms.
- Recommend comprehensive curricula to your school board or school health advisory council.
- If you work at a community-based organization, apply to your state for a sub-grant.
- If you live in one of the seven states that failed to apply for 2010 PREP funds, encourage your governor to apply in 2011. Call or write your governor and stress the importance and worth of this funding stream for young people’s health. You can find contact information for your governor’s office here: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Governors.shtml
Advocates for Youth can help. Call Advocates’ state strategies staff at 202-419-3420.