Washington, June 4 -- Teenage girls in the District of Columbia's Anacostia neighborhood are twice more likely to become teen mothers than their peers in other parts of the city, and almost three times more likely than the national average. This staggering statistic is a key reason why MedStar Washington Hospital Center's Teen Alliance for Prepared Parenting Program (TAPP) has been awarded $262,311 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, to support reproductive health care programs for pregnant teens in the District's Ward 8.
The grant award allows TAPP to offer its prenatal care and parenting services at a school-based health center located in Anacostia Senior High School in Southeast Washington. The health center is a comprehensive primary care clinic that serves enrolled students and their children, and is operated by MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
'We have the opportunity to create another level of support for youth by working within the school community,' said Loral Patchen, CNM, Ph.D., executive director of TAPP at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. 'By providing more access, we hope to erase one of the most critical barriers for young people to overcome -- access to healthcare.'
MedStar Washington Hospital Center was one of seven local health care organizations to receive the funds from CareFirst, to improve the health of uninsured and underinsured mothers and their babies. According to Child Trends, an estimated 17 percent of girls in the District of Columbia will become a teen mother compared to the national average of 13 percent, but lower than demographically-comparable cities. Teen birth rates vary dramatically by eight geographic wards in the city. Approximately one-third of teenage girls in Ward 7 (33 percent) and almost four in ten girls in Ward 8 (39 percent) are estimated to become teen mothers, as compared to 11 percent in all the other six wards combined.
'This is an opportunity to address a chronic health disparity in the city,' added Patchen. 'We can make an impact in Ward 8 by providing clinical care, health education, psychosocial case management and pregnancy prevention services to those who need it most.'
Founded in 1999, TAPP is the longest running program in the District that has provided prenatal care exclusively to teenage girls. Since then, more than 2,000 teenagers under the age of 18 have benefited from TAPP services. A young mother can receive services until their child is two years old and fathers are eligible to receive the services as well.