The effectiveness of an alternative high school for pregnant or parenting teens: A qualitative study
I began my research with Maternal and Child Health Consortium, a non-profit agency that directs maternal and child health care services in various counties in New Jersey. I then chose to work with Project TEACH (Teens Education and Child Health), a member organization of the Consortium and an alternative high school for pregnant or parenting teenagers located in Trenton, NJ. This research was qualitative in nature. I visited the Project TEACH site three times to observe the clients and conduct interviews. Five of six clients were interviewed one-on-one and asked questions about prenatal care utilization, the cultural and ethnic sensitivity and awareness of their health care providers, and their feelings about Project TEACH. Five of six staff members were available to fill out a survey regarding their thoughts about adolescents utilizing prenatal care services and the importance of ethnic background awareness. The findings were then compared to studies conducted in similar alternative schools.
Based on the Adequacy of Prenatal Care Utilization Index (APNCUI), a tool that measures the adequacy and timing of prenatal care visits, only one of the clients’ prenatal care utilization was considered “inadequate.” The most popular reasons clients chose to receive prenatal care were for the health of themselves and their baby and/or because a parent or guardian’s suggestion. The clients all stated that their health care providers were considerate of their ethnic or cultural background. The clients are generally pleased with project TEACH and gave few improvement suggestions. Three staff members stated that it is important for health care providers to be considerate of a clients’ ethnic background, while two staff members stated culture were more important. The curriculum, staff composition, and classes and services offered were similar between Project TEACH and the two other schools researched in previous studies. The main differences were in the sizes of the schools (Project TEACH having the fewest students) and the length of stay in the program. Unlike the two other schools, Project TEACH clients may choose to remain in the program after they have their baby or return to their normal public school.