El Camino is a comprehensive, goal-setting teen pregnancy prevention program developed by Child Trends. El Camino’s aim is to reduce teen childbearing and increase educational achievement among Latino youth. The program helps teens to personally identify their goals and develop their own camino, or road, to pursue them.
This brief describes El Camino, its structure and format, and preliminary results from a pilot testing of the program in seven schools and community-based organizations across six cities.
El Camino was field-tested in seven sites, and preliminary results suggest that the program’s approach is effective because it is research-based, active, engaging, and youth-focused. The El Camino curriculum incorporates several unique features that distinguish it from other evidence-based/evidence-informed curricula designed to prevent teen pregnancy and STIs. In particular, El Camino’s lessons and activities:
- Connect increased educational attainment and avoidance of adolescent pregnancy to the longer-term goal of reducing poverty
- Incorporate a goal-setting and achievement model
- Address the needs and cultural norms of Latino youth
- Focus on the most effective forms of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraceptives
- Work with youth to define healthy relationships and set limits with peers and partners
El Camino was developed for high school-age students. The curriculum contains eleven 45-minute lessons and is divided into three sections, or arcs. The three arcs focus on goal setting, sexual and reproductive health, and healthy relationships. Each lesson is briefly summarized in the table at the end of this brief.
El Camino Activities
El Camino incorporates a variety of activities to engage students. These activities are not designed to tell students what to do or think; instead, they are designed to encourage students to think for themselves about important issues like relationships, school, and their futures. In El Camino, students engage in activities that include:
- Reading stories/novelas for the duration of curriculum about teen characters with whom they share key characteristics
- “Voting with your feet,” meaning physically walking around a room to show agreement or disagreement with a statement or idea
- Role-playing with other students using scenarios about similar teenagers
- Participating in group discussions with teachers to discuss their thoughts and get answers to their questions
- Goal mapping by writing their personal goal—to achieve by age 25—on a map and thinking about the steps necessary to reach that goal
- Practicing skills by implementing concepts learned (for example, practicing assertive communication with partners or proper condom use)
Pilot Data and Findings
From 2015 to 2018, Child Trends developed and tested El Camino in Washington, DC; East Chicago, IN; Tacoma, WA; Baltimore, MD; Los Angeles, CA; and Philadelphia, PA. We worked with partner schools and organizations to implement El Camino with racially diverse groups of students in both English and Spanish; during and after school; and with classroom teachers, AmeriCorps volunteers, and Communities in Schools staff. After each implementation, we revised the curriculum based on classroom observations, fidelity data, and debriefs with students and facilitators.
Child Trends surveyed students before and after their participation in El Camino. At the post-test survey, we asked students if they thought El Camino had made them more or less likely to have sex; and whether, if they were to have sex, the program had made them more or less likely to use contraception or a condom. Results were very encouraging, with the vast majority of students—91 percent—reporting that El Camino had made them either less likely to have sex, more likely to use contraception, or more likely to use a condom. Students reported high satisfaction with the program, and about three-quarters said it was “excellent” or “very good.”
From pre-test to post-test, students who participated in El Camino also reported significant changes in important attitudes and knowledge.
- Confidence about discussing sex and consent. Students reported feeling more confident to talk about sex and consent with their partners at the end of the program.
- Contraceptive knowledge. When given three questions about contraceptives, at the beginning and end of the program, students improved from getting 49 percent correct, on average, to getting 74 percent correct— a 25 percentage-point increase.
- Setting goals. Before El Camino, 64 percent of students agreed they had goals to accomplish before having a child. This increased to 80 percent of students at the end of El Camino.
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El Camino is available online on the Child Trends website. Materials are available here: https://www.childtrends.org/research/research-by-topic/el-camino-goal-setting-program
We would like to thank The JPB Foundation for their generous support.
 Moore, J.A., Manlove, J., Faccio, B., Parekh, J., & Beckwith, S. (2018). El Camino, a goal-setting teen pregnancy program, finds promising results (blog). Bethesda, MD: Child Trends.
 Based on survey data from 136 students.
 Based on post-test survey data from 94 students. Number of surveys varies by outcome.
 Based on a sample of 55 matched student surveys.
 Questions ask about the effectiveness of the IUD relative to the condom, the effectiveness of the implant relative to the birth control pill, and about whether the IUD causes infertility.