Georgia experienced one of the biggest declines in teen birthrates throughout the country in 2009, and advocates hope a new influx of federal dollars will spur continued progress.
From 2007 to 2009, Georgia ranked among the top 10 states to see significant dips in the birthrate for girls ages 15 to 17. The rate fell 15.4 percent to 23.6 births per 1,000 females ages 15-17 in 2009, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report released this week.
The birthrate for 18- to 19-year-olds also dropped 16.7 percent in Georgia during that period, to 83.9 births per 1,000 females in 2009.
It's a tremendous improvement, said Michele Ozumba, CEO of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. "We are seeing progress in the Southeast."
Last year, the CDC awarded G-CAPP $7.5 million over five years for a program aimed at reducing pregnancy in Augusta-Richmond County, which has a teen birthrate 22.9 percent higher than the state average. The funds are part of a larger Obama administration initiative awarding $100 million to support evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs across the country.
The Augusta program's goal, Ozumba said, is to reduce teen pregnancy and births 10 percent by 2015 -- which is projected to save the public $1.2 million a year.
The Jane Fonda-founded nonprofit will work with a variety of agencies, after-school programs, clinics and other groups. Currently in the planning stage, the communitywide program will look to increase access to health services for sexually active teens, implement prevention programs and create connections between those programs and clinics, among other strategies.
Part of the challenge will be breaking down ideological barriers in a state that has traditionally focused on teaching abstinence before marriage only, Ozumba said. "We have to spend a lot of time trying to bring people around the table."