The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released recommendations for school districts to better support pregnant and parenting students under Title IX. ICAH's CHAT youth and adult accomplices are committed to ensuring students, teachers, administrators, and all others are aware of the law and its principles.
The StopPNA Story Map shows that Illinois youth and adults have something to say in opposition to the dangerous Parental Notification of Abortion (PNA) Law in Illinois. We began collecting stories as soon as the law went into effect in August 2013 and haven’t stopped since then.
Interact with the map by zooming in and out and clicking on points shows petition signatures, postcards people have signed and sent to their legislators, and stories people have written on t-shirts, and transcriptions of audio recordings of youth describing how a law like this impacts them.
Zoom in and click on the markers to learn more about what a specific location offers.
In Spring 2015, ICAH’s Healthcare Network, along with intern Kassy Podvin, held 8 weeks of focus groups--two with healthcare providers and one with youth, including young parents--in a two-county suburban area in Illinois (locations have been redacted to preserve the anonymity of participants). We researched where young people were reported to seek services most often and made connections with youth workers by establishing on-going youth meetings.
Through collaboration with a high school childcare center and their director [redacted], ICAH’s Healthcare Network held an hour-long focus group with eight of the center’s pregnant and parenting young people on May 6th, 2015. ICAH listened to stories of young people regarding where and how frequently they accessed care and what their healthcare experience and provider relationships looked like.
Participants of the pregnant and parenting young people focus group allow shared their thoughts on what providers and clinic staff could do to improve their healthcare experiences and increase their ability to access quality care. Shared themes surrounding suggestions included increased youth-friendliness among healthcare providers and having care that centers informed-choice and transparency. Specifically, young people gave the following feedback:
Through conversations with adult community members who worked with young people, the spaces that continued to be presented as locations that were accessed by young people for healthcare services were [two locations]. While the Healthcare Network reached out to both service providers, we ended up providing two separate focus groups on April 1stand 29th that captured over 22 provider voices of [a local clinic] across specialties. These focus groups were held during protected staff meeting time and served as an informal way for ICAH to gain perspective within the limited time constraints of provider schedules.
During provider focus groups, two main themes were present when discussing barriers practitioners faced when providing healthcare services to young people: lack of access to accurate sexual health information and parental pressure or interference when seeking services. Focus group participants specifically addressed the following barriers:
Providers of the [local clinic] also highlighted ways that they were navigating these barriers when providing healthcare to young people. Themes that arose during this barrier navigation focus group discussion included: promoting the confidentiality and desires of young people and building strong patient-provider relationships. While these techniques were present, they were less generalizable among all group members and were instead only voiced by a few participants. Providers that did express barrier navigation skills emphasized the following:
During the May 2015 Healthcare Network meeting, intern Kassy Podvin presented the focus group findings and information highlighted in this report. As a group, members collectively agreed that continued work in [this specific suburban area] is needed and composed the following recommendations to help guide that work.
While the Healthcare Network remains focused on engaging with the three specialty areas of Family Medicine practitioners, Pediatricians, and Obstetrician-Gynecologists throughout the entire [suburban area], current organizing efforts should be redirected to alternative entry points and remain targeted on the [two-county area]. This approach will allow for relationships and knowledge of ICAH’s work to grow and will provide a platform for future provider engagement in other [suburban areas]. Organizing should focus on cultivating initial relationships with community organizations in addition to healthcare focused organizations, progressive professional healthcare networks or unions, medical staff, and school nurses to deepen ICAH’s knowledge of the area’s resources and landscape surrounding youth-friendliness in healthcare.
A central part of ICAH’s continued organizing in the [suburban counties] should be focused on cultivating relationships with the area’s young people and the adult allies that work with them. This work will need to be informed by additional outreach and one-on-ones to identify current community members that have existing positive partnerships with young people in the area or have the ability to move and influence others in the community. Relationships with young people may be strengthened by engaging area youth with ICAH materials and workshops within schools and community spaces. Lastly, current venues for healthcare provider feedback, specifically from young people, should be identified. With the information and relationships gained across these avenues, organizing efforts should begin to work to create spaces for medical staff and providers to interface with young people in ways that allow for youth storytelling and adult ally skill building for providers.
Based on the focus group feedback, as well as additional knowledge provided by network member Christine Head, there has been expressed momentum and concern for the health of the area’s young people that have been involved with the juvenile justice system. Collaboration with professionals in this field that have an existing investment in the lives of young people, and who have identified health access as a need, is a promising entry point for ICAH’s organizing efforts.
As part of ICAH’s work with providers and medical staff, there should be a creative focus on incentive development beyond and in addition to the establishment of Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit offerings. This incentivized approach would work in partnership with ICAH’s Education Coordinator to provide specialized professional development or certificates that would help promote youth-friendliness in healthcare. Marketing and language surrounding these incentives should be framed in ways that are more relatable to provider populations while also aligning with ICAH values.