Women's Centre of Jamaica Foundation Programme for Adolescent Mothers Print
Programs that Work to Prevent Subsequent Pregnancy among Adolescent Mothers

Program Components

  • Community-based pregnancy prevention program for adolescent mothers
  • Parenting and child nutrition education
  • Family planning counseling and services for adolescent mothers
  • Activities to develop self-esteem and life skills for adolescent mothers
  • Classroom instruction to support young women in returning to school
  • Job training and job placement assistance for adolescent mothers
  • Counseling and support services for adolescent fathers
  • Advocacy efforts to change laws and policies affecting pregnant and parenting teens

For Use With

  • Pregnant and parenting Caribbean teenage women

Evaluation Methodology

  • Historical cohort study in select Jamaica parishes to identify repeat pregnancies among mothers ages 15 through 20 who had a first live birth in 1994, while between the ages of 11 and 16
  • Data from interviews with a sample of young women who gave birth in 1994 (total teenage births n=1,453; sample n=266), yielding treatment (n=87) and comparison groups (n=173)
  • Retrospective data used to identify and interview young women regarding pregnancies that occurred in 1995 through 1998, from one to four years after the index birth in 1994

Evaluation Findings

  • Increased use of contraception
  • Reduced incidence of repeat pregnancy
  • Increased educational attainment among young mothers
  • Increased employment outcomes among young mothers

Program Description

The Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation (WCJF) addresses the health of adolescents in the broad context of their educational and employment needs. As such, its Adolescent Mothers Programme provides classroom instruction and support for mothers 16 years of age and under with the two aims of: 1) returning them to the formal school system and 2) delaying the birth of a second child. For unmarried and unemployed mothers over age 18, the program provides employment skills and job placement assistance. Participants in the program must accept and use a family planning method. WCJF operates the program at seven centers and 13 outreach stations throughout the island.14

In particular the program continues the education of pregnant teens under age 16 and provides needed support services after they return to school in order to ensure that they remain in school until graduation from secondary school. The program provides intensive counseling, both to individuals and groups, regarding family planning and provides family life, parenting, and child nutrition education as well. The program encourages young women to develop the inner strength, self-respect, and dignity to withstand pressures associated with low economic status and helps them to create a positive self-image. In addition, the program provides young women with practical life skills so that they can be self-reliant. Young fathers also receive counseling and support services.15

The WCJF works consistently to overturn persistent myths and prejudices in Jamaican society about pregnant school students, including resistance by school officials to allowing young mothers to return to school, attitudes of antenatal nurses and teens’ own parents, and laws that discriminate against adolescent mothers.16

Evaluation Methodology

By 1995, 18,581 teenage mothers had participated in the programs of the WCJF. This historical cohort study was conducted to assess the effects of the WCJF program on the educational attainment of participants and on the incidence of repeat pregnancies occurring between 1995 and 1998. Self-reported pregnancies that occurred during 1995 through 1998 were regarded as repeat pregnancies. Study participants were females in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine and Manchester who were between the ages of 15 and 20 and who had a first live birth in 1994 when they were between the ages of 11 and 16. Given the difficulties of this type of study, the evaluators randomly selected 650 registered births as the evaluation cohort from the total (n=1,453) that met the study criteria. Every effort was made to locate and contact all 650 young women, and evaluators were able to locate 266. Of these, one refused to participate and five failed to meet the study criteria, resulting in a final number of 260 young women. Among the 260 women interviewed, 87 (33 percent) were registered WCJF participants; 173 (67 percent) were not and formed the comparison group.14


  • Increased use of contraception—Evaluation found that WCJF participation was significantly associated with use of contraception after the first birth. In fact, 80 of 87 WCJF participants used contraception, compared to 147 of 173 non-participants (P=0.04).14,15,16

Long-term Outcomes

  • Reduced incidence of repeat pregnancy—Evaluation found that program participants reduced their risk of one or more repeat pregnancies by 45 percent. The incidence of repeat pregnancy was 37 percent (32 of 87) among WCJF participants versus 60 percent (104 of 173) among non-participants. The cumulative incidence of repeat pregnancy among the entire study population was 52 percent (136 of 260). The differences were statistically significant (P=0.00). 14,15,16
  • Increased Educational Attainment—Evaluation found that WCJF participants were significantly more likely than non-participants to complete high school. Specifically, 32 percent (28 of 87) of participants had completed high school versus 20 percent (35 of 173) of non-participants (P=0.05).14,15,16
  • Increased Employment and Other Outcomes—In addition, participants were significantly more likely than comparisons to be currently employed, enjoy a higher monthly income, more positively perceive their own socio-economic status, and belong to a social club with regular social activities. Specifically, 25 percent (22 of 87) of participants were employed versus about 13 percent of comparisons (23 of 173; P=0.02). In addition, 56 percent of participants (49 of 87) had a monthly income as high as J$10,000 to $20,000 versus 35 percent of comparisons (60 of 173; P=0.00). About 64 percent of participants (56 of 87) perceived their socio-economic status as fair or good versus 39 percent of comparisons (68 of 173; P=0.00). Finally, 39 percent of participants (34 of 87) belonged to a social club and engaged in social activities versus some 16 percent of comparisons (27 of 173; P=0.00).14,15,16

For More Information, Contact

  • Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation—42 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica; Phone: (876) 929-7608, 929-0977; Fax: (876) 960-7551; Web site, ; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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