CLEMSON — Clemson University’s Joseph F. Sullivan Center has been awarded funding for a pilot program to support pregnant and parenting teens in Oconee County. The organization will join with six other local service providers to encourage pregnant and parenting teens to stay in school, delay the next pregnancy, improve parenting skills and become better connected to supportive resources.

Oconee County ranks 11th in the state for the number of births to 15- to 19-year-olds and 10th in the number of repeat pregnancies.

Joseph F. Sullivan Center is one of four agencies across the state selected to lead the new program in local communities. At the statewide level, Community Support for Young Parents is a collaborative partnership that includes Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, The Benefit Bank/S.C. Thrive, the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families and the S.C. Rural Health Research Center’s Division of Maternal and Child Health.

Sue Williams, chief executive officer at Children’s Trust of South Carolina, said, “By supporting young and vulnerable parents, we wrap protections around their children to reduce the risk for child abuse and neglect.”

Williams added, “This innovative, collaborative approach at the community-level will give young parents the skills and support they need.”

Joseph F. Sullivan Center will bring together six organizations to serve more than 600 young parents in Oconee County.

“Joseph F. Sullivan Center and its community partners were chosen based on the need as well as the ability to successfully implement the collaborative model,” said Forrest Alton, chief executive officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

“With our partners, we will work to increase quality, quantity and awareness of services for young parents; increase education attainment among pregnant and parenting young parents; reduce the number of repeat pregnancies and births among teens; and improve parenting skills and ensure South Carolina children are well cared for,” said Paula Watt, director of Joseph F. Sullivan Center.

Joseph F. Sullivan Center will collaborate with The Parenting Place, Seneca Lakes Family Medicine Residency, Oconee Health Center, the School District of Oconee County, Oconee Adult Education and Oconee County.

As part of the project, a new website for teens, pregnant teens and parents of teens is available at NotRightNowSC.org. The interactive, mobile-friendly site features resources about love, sex and relationships and will encourage teens and their parents to engage in conversations on these topics.

Funding for this effort comes through the Pregnancy Assistance Fund at the Office of Adolescent Health at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Children’s Trust will serve as the lead agency and the Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy will administer and execute the Community Support for Young Parents program.

The Benefit Bank/S.C. Thrive and the South Carolina Center for Fathers and Families will help provide training and technical assistance and provide service links across the state.  The S.C. Rural Health Research Center’s Division of Maternal and Child Health, located in the Department of Health Services Policy Management in the Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, will carry out the evaluation aspects of the grant.

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