MOAPPP Monitor
Fall 1999

Articles in this issue of the MOAPPP Monitor:

"Let's Talk Month"

MOAPPP Releases MFIP Data

Letter from MOAPPP Executive Director

St. Paul Advisory Board Update

Newest MSERRP Reviews

News & Notes

"Let’s Talk Month" to be Bigger Than Ever

October is "Let’s Talk Month."

In pregnancy prevention circles, that means we’re focusing special attention on encouraging and supporting parents in their efforts to talk to their kids about sexuality.

Granted, that’s no easy task. That’s why "Let’s Talk Month" is so important. It throws community support – from youth organizations, educators, faith leaders, opinion makers, friends, relatives, neighbors – behind parents and caregivers; both promoting and strengthening their role as the primary sexuality educators of their children.

Throughout October, MOAPPP will be using the "Let’s Talk Month" campaign to promote the importance of family communication about sexuality.

The "Let’s Talk Month" planning committee has been meeting for months, and in August, held a metropolitan-area training workshop to encourage local "Let’s Talk Month" activities.

MOAPPP’s "Let’s Talk Month" initiatives will include:

Encouraging policymakers throughout the state to proclaim October "Let’s Talk Month" – already, Mayor Norm Coleman of Saint Paul and Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton of Minneapolis have issued proclamations;
Sending news releases and Op/Ed pieces to daily and weekly papers throughout the state;
Distributing bulletin inserts for faith communities;
Educating opinion leaders and elected officials with fact sheets and flyers about "Let’s Talk Month" and the importance of family sexuality education;
Distributing public service announcements to radio stations statewide;
Participating in radio and television interviews;
Acting as the statewide clearinghouse for all local "Let’s Talk Month" activities, providing camera-ready copies of the "Let’s Talk Month" logo and artwork; and
Providing timely technical assistance and support for local "Let’s Talk Month" organizers, including the MN ENABL and Abstinence Education Community Grant projects.

Already, "Let’s Talk Month" is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before.

Thanks everyone on the "Let’s Talk Month" planning committee; including: Alicia Garcia, Ain Dah Yung; Ann Hueller, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Ann Tranvik, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Darleen Simmons, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Denise Anderson, D.E.A.F.; Grit Youngquist, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Judy Cavanaugh, Jewish Community Center of St. Paul; Karen Brotzler-Wexler, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Kathy Brothen, Family Tree; Kimaka White, Saint Paul - Ramsey County Dept. of Health; Marcie Brooke, Working Family Resource Center; Megan Ryan, Mayor Norm Coleman’s Office; Patrick J. Troska, St. Paul United Way; True Hang, Women’s Association of Hmong and Lao; Jonathan Jones, Catholic Charities; Emily Lindgren, SOS; Jamie Wang, Casa de Esperanza; Jennifer Martini, American Indian Family Center; Carrie Morrie, American Indian Family Center; Cathy Stahl, HealthStart Abstinence Education; Chia Vang, Lao Family Community; Robie Weisel, Planned Parenthood of MN/SD; Kathy Coolidge, St. Paul Urban League.

MOAPPP Releases Data:
Welfare Reform and Pregnancy Prevention Go Hand-in-Hand

In August, MOAPPP released new 1998 data showing that statewide 44% of all welfare dollars – totaling more than $12 million each month -- are spent on families started with a teen birth.*

Using this data, MOAPPP appealed to the public and policymakers with the pocketbook issues associated with teen pregnancy and parenting.

Each month, Minnesota spends roughly $27,377,763 on the family welfare program known as MFIP (Minnesota Family Investment Program). Of that, $12,168,582 are spent on families that began with a teen birth; making these families one of the largest demographic groups on welfare today.

Clearly, these numbers show that Minnesota could effectively reduce its welfare rolls by investing in programs that help teenagers avoid early pregnancy or that support young parents in their efforts to finish high school and find good jobs.

However, like many states, Minnesota has tended to deem teen pregnancy and parenting issues too politically hot to handle.

As a result, despite the obvious economic incentives, teen pregnancy prevention and parenting support programs continue to be woefully under-funded, our youth continue to get pregnant and have children at an alarming rate and Minnesota is missing an excellent opportunity for significant and permanent welfare reform.

* Raw data provided to MOAPPP by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, July 30, 1999.

Letter from MOAPPP Executive Director

MOAPPP Friends:

Can we talk?

That’s what we want to hear parents asking their kids throughout October. But it’s also what MOAPPP is asking folks throughout Minnesota in a new and exciting way.

Can we talk about teenage pregnancy? Can we talk about teen parenting? Can we talk about abstinence? Can we talk about comprehensive sexuality education?

We want to talk about these issues openly and honestly.

"Let’s Talk Month" is the first effort in our new initiative designed to bring much-needed public awareness to the reality of behind teen pregnancy and parenting in Minnesota.

As we already know, this is a problem that devastates lives and families and costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year. However, most of our friends and neighbors have no idea this problem even exists. Or, maybe it’s that they don’t want to talk about it. Or, maybe they don’t know what they can do about it.

At MOAPPP, we’re committed to getting this message out. Leveraging our resources behind the "Let’s Talk Month" campaign in October, "Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month" in May, our highly successful annual conference and our ongoing promotion of our nationally-recognized Teen Pregnancy PuzzleŠ, we’re dedicated to gaining awareness and public support for teen pregnancy prevention and parenting programs in Minnesota.

Using our effective outreach resources -- our website, the Monitor, the InfoExchange and our networks of technical trainings and workshops – MOAPPP is building upon an already successful foundation.

Not only will this outreach bring this issue to the public’s attention, but it will also give a boost to local prevention programs and enhance our ability to effectively advocate for responsible public policies at the state and local levels.

We especially want to work with providers, parents and opinion leaders in Minnesota’s communities of color -- where the effects of early pregnancy and parenting hit the hardest.

Working together, I’m looking forward to the exciting results we’re sure to achieve.

I hope you will join us in our efforts to ensure that teen pregnancy and parenting programs are getting the attention and support they deserve.

Nancy

Saint Paul Coordination Project Underway

With two meetings now behind them, the St. Paul Coordination Project is off to a promising start. Evidencing the enthusiasm for this effort, more than 40 have attended these meetings.

Everyone from faith leaders to youth organization representatives to direct service providers are participating in the Project and are excited about having the opportunity to get to know each other, coordinate their programming and developing new and integrated initiatives.

Overall, the goals of this three-year collaboration with the Saint Paul – Ramsey County Department of Public Health are to:

improve service coordination and programming,
increase public awareness of teen pregnancy issues,
enhance professional training opportunities to ensure use of best practices principles, and
encourage responsible public policies related to teen pregnancy, prevention and parenting in St. Paul.

Funding for this innovative program comes from the St. Paul, Bigelow and Mardag Foundations. The next Project meeting will be in September at the Hallie Q. Brown/MLK Community Center.

MSERRP Reviews 3 More Titles

MSERRP has done it again!

In July, the 30-plus members of the Minnesota Sexuality Education Resource Review Panel (MSERRP) reviewed three more sexuality education videos, rejecting two: Choosing to be Disease-Free and Social Choices and Consequences, both from At-Risk Resources.

MSERRP approved and recommended the final video, Raising Healthy Kids, distributed by Advocates for Youth. The video, which focuses on helping families communicate effectively with their children about sexual health, is a perfect fit for "Let’s Talk Month" activities.

MSERRP is a joint project of MOAPPP and the MN Department of Children, Families and Learning.

MSERRP is comprised of 30 individuals representing a broad range of expertise in sexuality education and represent statewide and community-based organizations, including teachers, public health professionals, health educators, school administrators, state agency professionals, parents, youth workers, policymakers and religious leaders.

For more information about MSERRP, call Emari Dimagiba Lavine in the MOAPPP offices.

News & Notes

ACTION ALERT: School Board Elections Upcoming. School board elections are right around the corner. As always, many of the candidates will be sponsoring candidate forums where you can go and make your voice and opinion known. Please plan to attend these events and ask each of the candidates where they stand on sexuality education. These are the people who will be setting the policies on sexuality education for our children. Don’t let them forget that despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, the majority of parents want comprehensive sexuality education taught in our schools.

MOAPPP Wins Statewide Award. This spring, MOAPPP proudly received the 1999 "Organization of the Year" award from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Associates & Practitioners (NAPNAP). Citing MOAPPP’s "advocacy efforts on teen parenting, male responsibility and minor consent," NAPNAP commended MOAPPP for "heightening awareness surrounding teen pregnancy, access to services and difficulties facing pregnant adolescents." Nancy Nelson and Donna Fishman accepted the award on behalf of all MOAPPP members at the NAPNAP spring conference.

Spanning the State. On October 16, MOAPPP, Planned Parenthood and the Minnesota Aids Project (MAP) will be spanning the state -- without leaving Saint Paul. Using satellite technology, MOAPPP will be co-sponsoring advocacy trainings throughout the state and downlinking them so that participants from Duluth to Rochester can discuss effective advocacy strategies and promote comprehensive sexuality education. Tentative sites include, St. Paul, Duluth, Anoka, Rochester, Bemidji and St. Cloud. For more information, call the MOAPPP offices.

Looking Back/Looking Ahead. The 1999 MOAPPP Annual Report will be mailed to MOAPPP members in early November. Check it out for a recap of all the exciting things MOAPPP’s done over the past 12 months and for a brief, but exciting, look into the MOAPPP crystal ball. This is the MOAPP "tell-all" you’ve been waiting for….since last year.

Generation Next. In July, MOAPPP sponsored the second Cross-Cultural Dialogue. Using the topic, "…To Begin Raising a Prejudice-Free Generation," participants from shared their ideas and values about building communities that bridge cultures, backgrounds and generations. By popular demand, the Cross-Cultural Dialogue series is ongoing. Check future Monitors or the MOAPPP website for the wheres and whens.

Can We Chat? In recognition of "Let’s Talk Month," Project SIGHT of Northfield will be sponsoring a 2-week cyber-chat on how parents and caregivers can manage the impact of sexuality in the media on their children. Local and national experts, including MOAPPP’s Nancy Nelson, will be submitting initial comments to help frame the debate. Project SIGHT’s chat will be on-line at www.nco.com. If you have any question about this project, call Project SIGHT’s Sue Wolf at 507-664-0220.