Teen pregnancy prevention programs in Oregon are taking a big financial hit.
Kim Toevs, the Director of Youth Sexual Health Equity Program and STD HIV for Multnomah County Health, said just over a week ago she got bad news.
She said the Trump administration has cut an important federal grant two years earlier than expected.
“It surprised us. It more than surprised us. I mean honestly, we’re really reeling from this. We’re quite upset,” Toevs said.
The grant helps provide sex education to about 12,000 kids in Multnomah County. It provides training and coaching for teachers so they can effectively teach sex-ed curriculum. She said that curriculum has been tested and evaluated, and its been found to have an impact on young people.
“It’s really about a whole spectrum of things from communication skills, to reducing teen dating violence, to waiting until someone’s ready to have sex, having sex with birth control, consent, the whole spectrum of sexual reproductive health,” said Toevs.
Toevs said Multnomah County will lose more than $1 million in funding per year. About $200 million has been cut from programs across the United States.
Toevs said the money is expected to get funneled to abstinence-only programs.
Money for the program in Multnomah County won't dry up for another year, but after that things are up in the air.
“We have some support for our program already from local county tax dollars, but I think we expect that the county will be facing similar cuts from this new federal administration to a variety of different services,” Toevs said. “We’ll be creative."
She said the county will have to rely more on community partners such as the NAYA, The Latino Network, Planned Parenthood, Self Enhancement Inc., and the Boys and Girls Club. The grant also benefits those community organizations. Community leaders are trained in sexual health and help disperse the information to their communities. Toevs said the program also promotes racial equity.
Toevs said Oregon has a law through the Department of Education that mandates all middle school and high school students need comprehensive sexual education. She hopes the county will, with the help of community partners, still be able to provide the services she says are vital.
“Our teachers and school districts are pretty strapped and stretched thin. So they not only need the content expertise that we have in public health, but they also need some support in coaching and even purchasing the curricula,” said Toevs.
Toevs said the county has been making progress on unplanned teen pregnancies.