Background and Priority Area
The DC Primary Care Association, a health equity action organization in the nation’s capital, joins with Children’s National Hospital and Howard University to lead a bold partnership of young parents, community providers, educational institutions, health care agencies, government partners, and other stakeholders. This DC Network for Expectant and Parenting Teens, or DC NEXT!, will focus on the priority area of expectant and parenting youth specifically in Washington DC, where the teen birth rate is higher than the national average, with 19.3 births per 1000 in 2018. DC NEXT! plans to reach 700 expectant and parenting youth in Washington DC over the three-year grant period.
Innovation and Impact:
DC NEXT! will be grounded in the principle that young people who are valued and respected by responsive adults hold the keys to reducing teen pregnancy, reducing sexually transmitted infections, and achieving optimal health. DC NEXT! will be both innovative and impactful due to its inclusion of both a collective impact and human-centered design approach.
Collective impact is a powerful structure for sustainable, collaborative action designed to tackle complex, structural problems – such as teen pregnancy - that don’t have singular, technical solutions, but require stakeholders from across a community to join together and work across silos to identify solutions. A defining aspect of the human-centered design is its requirement to bring people with lived experience with the challenge being tackled to the table from the start to deeply understand their experience with the problem and which solutions are most viable.
With expectant and parenting youth at the center of our efforts, DC NEXT! will explore, design, test, and evaluate innovative interventions that strengthen young parents’ capacity to make healthy decisions about relationships, sex, parenting, and life.
DC NEXT! will use collective impact and a human-centered equity action lab to form the core of our efforts to achieve the following goals:
• Young families will access pathways for well-being, addressing their mental, physical, educational, and economic well-being.
• Young families will experience care environments that are youth-centered, asset-focused, trauma-informed, and evidence based in their care systems and delivery.
• Young families will make healthy decisions regarding relationships, sex, and family planning.
DC NEXT! will focus its work on three domains, prioritized by the network:
1.) Continuum of Care
2.) School Based Services
3.) Sexual and Reproductive Health
In addition to our priority domains, we will use the human-centered equity action lab to co-design and validate an Optimal Health Self-Assessment with expectant and parenting youth. This tool will serve as an evaluation resource throughout the three-year time period and will generate an initial baseline data set for our target population. Once validated through our work, we anticipate opportunity to disseminate the tool and to scale its use throughout the District of Columbia and beyond. We believe this is a unique and valuable asset, where our youth partners will define what optimal health means for them, and we can work together to increase health over time.
Project Management Capacity and Collaboration:
DCPCA brings, significant experience in collective impact and human-centered design, and chose project partners with explicit strength in the field of trauma-informed care and research and adolescent development. In addition, DC NEXT! has already engaged more than 30 individuals, including parenting youth and women, from 15 organizations serving expectant and parenting youth. When we achieve changes in our system of care and in the way we plan and implement interventions with and for expectant and parenting youth, we support their ability to reduce teen pregnancy and STIs and achieve optimal health. DC NEXT! leverages the rich knowledge and d