Innovations in Family Planning Clinical Service Delivery for Underserved School-Based Populations

High-quality, comprehensive family planning services for adolescents are crucial to efforts to reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, young adults often do not use family planning services due to their concerns about confidentiality and their lack of knowledge about how to access services, as well as clinics’ lack of youth-friendly or culturally sensitive practices. These barriers are particularly common among populations that are traditionally underserved or located in resource-limited areas and often experience poor reproductive health outcomes.

High schools and community colleges may offer ideal entry points for family planning providers to serve this population. Many school-based health centers (SBHCs) are strategically located in low-resource communities, and community colleges tend to serve students from lower socioeconomic brackets; these institutions are uniquely positioned to provide access to underserved young people. As family planning providers look for new ways to improve service delivery to youth, there is a need to document and disseminate successful strategies being implemented to serve youth in school-based settings.

With funding from the Office of Population Affairs and in partnership with the School-Based Health Alliance, Child Trends is conducting research to identify, evaluate, and disseminate successful strategies for providing family planning services to adolescents in school-based settings. A key goal of the study is to increase family planning providers’ knowledge of ways they can collaboratively work in and/or with schools and community colleges to better reach underserved adolescents and young adults.

Study Activities

To meet this goal, the study team will engage in the following stages of research from 2019 to 2022:

  • Identify innovative strategies that programs or providers use to improve family planning service delivery to school-based populations. Child Trends and its partners will interview family planning providers across the United States to identify successful strategies for reaching, engaging, and serving adolescents and young adults. We are particularly interested in learning about innovative ways to provide better family planning services to populations that are typically underserved or located in areas with limited health care resources.
  • Explore facilitators and barriers to developing and sustaining these innovative strategies. Child Trends will visit three clinics or programs to conduct in-depth evaluations of promising strategies and explore whether these practices could be adopted by other practitioners and programs.
  • Develop and disseminate practical guidance on implementing innovative practices for family planning programs in the United States. Based on these interviews and evaluations, the team will create user-friendly toolkits. The toolkits will guide family planning programs in adopting innovative service delivery strategies to improve program reach among school-based populations.

Project Contacts

Child Trends project directors

Federal program officer