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Accelerating Progress: Reducing Teen Pregnancy in South Carolina

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When it comes to teen pregnancy, South Carolina has the 11th highest rate of births to teenage mothers. That’s according to data from the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The good news is that organizations like Fact Forward are working to improve that ranking.

Once known as the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Fact Forward promotes teen reproductive health throughout the state. With its work, the teen birth rate in South Carolina has declined 70 percent since 1994.

In fact, the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation helped Fact Forward introduce the Collaborative for Reproductive Education and Wellness (CREW) program. CREW teaches health center employees tips to improve teen reproductive health care. They also learn to make improvements like separate waiting areas for teens and provide flexibility in scheduling appointments at their clinics.

“The Foundation recognized the collaborative model as a promising practice, and they were the first to fund us to start it and test it,” says Doug Taylor, director of community programs and evaluation at Fact Forward. “Now it’s been shown to be an effective way in supporting health centers to reach teenage clients.”

Since 2015, 53 health centers from across the state have participated in CREW.

In 2018, the Foundation helped Fact Forward start its Reproductive Health Education and Access project on five South Carolina college campuses.

The project’s goal is to reach at least 650 students and increase their knowledge about sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy prevention, drug and alcohol use and healthy relationships. The project has reached nearly 500 students so far.

Student surveys show that knowledge about reversible contraceptives is increasing.

While it’s great the state has experienced a 70 percent decline in its teen birth rate, we can do better. Continuing to provide teens with quality education and access to contraceptives remains an important approach in reducing unplanned pregnancies.