Oklahoma programs to prevent teen pregnancy will lose $3.9 million dollars in federal funding each of the next two years after the Trump administration suddenly decided to end early five-year grants supporting such programs nationwide.
Youth Services Tulsa Executive Director David Grewe said Oklahoma’s teen birth rate has gone from 50 per thousand in 2010 to 35 per thousand — still the second-highest in the U.S.
"It's not as good as we'd like, but it is improvement," Grewe said. "We think there's a lot more work to do, and we're really surprised that this grant has been cut after we expected two more years of funding."
Youth Services Tulsa will lose $1.5 million a year — all the funding for its program, which aims to reach 10,000 teens a year in a collaboration with other local groups, including the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Community Service Council.
Similar programs in the Choctaw Nation and Oklahoma City-County Health Department will also lose federal funding as of June 30, 2018.
The Trump administration’s approach in teen pregnancy prevention going forward is unclear.
"In the past, there's been an abstinence-only approach in previous Republican administrations," Grewe said. "We know that the evidence is that is ineffective, that these more comprehensive approaches have a greater impact on reducing teen pregnancy rates."
Grewe said teen parents often don’t finish school, are more likely to get involved with child welfare or criminal justice systems, and are less likely to make a living wage.
"You know, if you're not quite grown up yourself, how are you going to successfully parent someone?" Grewe said.
More than 80 programs across the U.S. receive the same grants, which total $213.6 million. The Trump administration has high-level officials in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who favor abstinence over contraception to prevent teen pregnancies.