In July 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Services funded the Will County Health Department to coordinate a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program within the city of Joliet. The grant funding for this program was prioritized for communities with high rates of births by teens and sexually transmitted infections. In 2018, Joliet’s High School District 204 accounted for 58% of births by teens in Will County.
This three-year grant provides the health department with funding for programs, curriculum, training, and community health educators to implement evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention curricula in District 204 high schools. This new evidence-based initiative specifically focuses on reducing the rate of teen pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as risky sexual behaviors among adolescents.
Previously, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention grant was implemented in the Valley View School District within Bolingbrook. Since its launch, Bolingbrook saw a 45% decrease in births by teens as well as a 32% decrease in gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease, in teens ages 15-19. Along with the implementation of the curriculum, efforts are being made to educate both parents and community members through a Community Advisory Group. The purpose of the Community Advisory Group is to function as a leadership team to assist in raising awareness, educating, and building support in the community around the issue of teen pregnancy prevention.