Department - Sexual and Reproductive Health Program Area

Child Trends’ Sexual and Reproductive Health program area conducts rigorous research that aims to promote adolescents’ and young people’s reproductive health and sexual agency. In this work, we center individuals’ unique needs, experiences, and context to inform programs, practices, and policies. We work to ensure that adolescents and young adults (1) have access to high-quality, accurate, inclusive, and culturally relevant sexual and reproductive health care and knowledge; (2) are able to plan for and engage in safe, consensual, healthy, and empowered sexual activity; and (3) can have wanted, healthy pregnancies and births.  

Many of our social welfare systems, including those that support sexual and reproductive health, have embedded biases that limit their ability to adequately meet the needs of individuals from historically marginalized groups. Therefore, we prioritize work that can help improve systems of care for groups of people who continue to face discrimination and inequitable access to high-quality person-centered care (including low-income or uninsured people; Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous populations; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) individuals).  

We develop and evaluate innovative programs designed to promote positive sexual health outcomes among adolescents and young adults; provide technical assistance to programs and policymakers on sexual and reproductive health; develop conceptual models to describe reproductive health issues; examine access to person-centered care (focusing on patients’ values and preferences); identify approaches to improve family planning service delivery; and analyze data to identify drivers and consequences of health inequities.  

We employ a variety of methodologies in our work, including implementation evaluations, rigorous impact evaluations (including randomized control trials and quasi-experimental studies), secondary data analysis, participatory research, and technical assistance. We have deep experience collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data from adolescents and young adults. Our research is informed by a range of frameworks, including the social determinants of health, the socio-ecological, and positive youth development frameworks. We pay attention to the roles of societal and community factors in shaping well-being, in addition to individual factors.  

Our program area includes experts from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including demography, public health, sociology, psychology, and human development. For more information about Child Trends’ sexual and reproductive health program area, please contact Deborah Temkin, PhD, acting program area director for sexual and reproductive health.