Healthy Life Choices Project
Sarah Jones, Healthy Life Choices Project Director
Healthy Life Choices Project is a prevention project to reduce teen pregnancy. The project starts with building a constructive framework for decision-making and proceeds to difficult decisions about sex. The main target population for this project is 10-15 year old youth in foster care but will also include general population youth in the same age range.
“Research reveals that almost half of youth who have ever lived in foster care had sex for the first time before age 16, compared to one third of other youth; they are less likely to use contraception the first time they have sex, and are twice as likely to have a baby as a teen; and they are also more likely to have experienced forced sex” (Drake,2009).
The project is funded through a federal grant administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment with some additional funds from SRS Children and Family Services.
The primary goal of this prevention project is to reduce premature sexual activity. Risky behaviors, such as alcohol/drug use and school dropouts have been linked to teen pregnancy. By employing an overall educational strategy to address the risky behaviors, the belief is that youth will be better able to make big decisions concerning sexual activity if they are first educated on how to make well thought-out decisions in general.
There are three components within the Healthy Life Choices Project, two community components and one for foster parents and youth:
There are two project components that occur within the communities. Nine community agencies (Associated Youth Services, Catholic Charities of NE KS, KidsTLC, KVC Behavioral Healthcare, Saint Francis Community Services, Sunlight Children’s Advocacy and Rights Foundation, TFI Family Services, The Shelter, and Youthville) will hold groups throughout Kansas to work with youth on decision making skills. These groups will target both foster youth and the general population.
- All Stars Program is a school based group to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, postpone sexual activity, and reduce fighting and delinquency in adolescents.
- Choices Program utilizes small discussion groups allowing participants to learn from other’s choices while acquiring the skills to process well thought out decision making.
Foster Home Component:
The third project component is a curriculum available for foster parents to work with foster youth regarding healthy relationships.
- Healthy Relationships Curriculum for Foster Parents provides information that is designed to vigorously and effectively encourage young people to postpone sexual involvement, and to provide the guidance and information young people need to reduce their risks when they do become sexually active. This program is designed to provide sensitivity towards foster children who have been sexually abused. This curriculum is provided in a self-directed online course as well as training of trainers.