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Budget Hearings: Talking Dollars and Needs

April is tax season, but it's also the season for budget hearings, where the council combs through the mayor's proposed budget and talks to agency after agency and department after department to figure out who gets what.

This morning it was Brenda Rhodes Miller, the executive director of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Did you know that about 1,000 D.C. teenagers each year have babies and about 22 percent of those pregnancies are repeat births? Miller offered that detail during her testimony.

Today Chairman Vincent C. Gray is listening to testimony about the budget for the two city agencies that deal with youth programs and the school buildings - the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, led by Victor Reinoso, and the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, led by Allen Lew.

Miller said that the city needs to budget more money for teen pregnancy prevention programs. She asked that the city consider starting a pilot program in which nurses do home visits for low-income mothers, staying with the families until the babies are at least 2 years old. Miller also urged the city to consider expanding health centers in schools.

Adam Tenner, executive director of MetroTeen AIDS, also joined Miller at the witness table, saying that one new HIV infection costs the District $600,000 annually in prescriptions. He urged a $1.6 million increase in the budget for the Deputy Mayor for Education to coordinate the city's health agency and school system to work on preventing new HIV cases. With just a few prevented cases, Tenner testified, the program would "pay for itself."

Reinoso and Lew will testify later this afternoon.

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  April 2, 2008; 12:29 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Council , Education , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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Thank you to Brenda Rhodes Miller for encouraging the City to utilize and increase the number of school health centers as a mechanism for lowering the teenage pregnancy rate and expanding access to health care for children and adolescents.

Eastern Senior High School has a school-based health center which runs a pregnancy prevention program. In School Year 06-07, the program resulted in a 98% pregnancy-free rate for 128 teens with whom the Center was able to have at least 4 contacts with. Utilizing the clinics, in conjunction with age-appropriate and clinically-accurate health and sex education in the schools, is an effective way to use the place where our children and adolescents spend much of their day (the schools) to help our teens remain in school and pregnancy-free.

The school health centers can also provide comprehensive primary, behavioral, and oral health services, as well as prevention and education, to help our students stay healthy and prepared to succeed in school. The City would do well to invest in this model of health care. We currently have 2 school-based health centers and 2 school-linked health centers. Many more children and adolescents could benefit from the comprehensive and quality care these centers provide.

Posted by: Jennifer Leonard | April 10, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

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