Example: the Teen-Adult Partnership for Enhancing Strategies Toward Responsible Youth (TAPESTRY) in rural Humboldt County. Each year for 14 years (until June 2011), TAPESTRY worked with over 1,000 students (there are appproximately 18,000 students in the county), providing information on pregnancy prevention and healthy relationships. (TAPESTRY also educated teachers and AmeriCorps volunteers on state education codes regarding sex education.)
In 2004, TAPESTRY was dropped from the state budget in initial negotiations, but was reinstated through the support of the Senate Budget Sub-Committee chaired by State Senator Wes Chesbro. Then, in 2011, "The governor took the red pencil to us and at that point there was nothing we could do about," Beth Chaton, Ed.D., (Above) told California's Children.
Since the county's teen birth rate dropped 4% from 2006-2010 to 27.1 per 1,000 births in 2010 the county lost the attention of the state and got put on the chopping block of programs to be cut. Dr.Chaton, who is now the project coordinator for Del Norte County's PREP (Personal Responsibility Education Program) grant, and program coordinator for Humboldt's after-school programs, said:
"...prevention education is less expensive than intervention; prevention education works..."
According to Kaci Poor for the Times-Standard, Humboldt County is one of the 26 counties in the state that falls below the state's average of teen pregnancy. In 2010, the county's teen birth rate was 27.1 to every 1,000 births compared to the states 29 to every 1,000 births. Those numbers reflect the efforts made by programs that were in place during that time.
Dr. Chaton told the Times-Standard, “Since [TAPESTRY] has been eliminated, I am absolutely worried we will see our teen birth rates go back up.” She also said of the cuts, "There are new 12- and 13-year-olds every year that are not receiving the benefits TAPESTRY afforded,” she said. “It's not like once you put the information out there one time you are done. That would be great, but that's not how it works.”
Unfortunately, when Humboldt County gets attention from the state again, it is likely to be because of a spike in teen pregnancy thanks to the elimination of collaborative efforts like TAPESTRY.
Written by: Taylor McCulloch