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Building Relationships to Strategically Impact Community Initiatives to Reduce Teen Pregnancy

Author: JOY A. CLAY LYNDA M. SAGRESTANO and RUTHBETH FINERMAN
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 3

This article explores how researchers can build relationships with community stakeholders to facilitate the establishment of a coordinated and informed community response in the context of teen pregnancy reduction initiatives. The case study of a Memphis/Shelby County, Tennessee collaborative revolves around a community engagement process founded on four strategies: 1) building policy legitimacy through broad-based participation, 2) seeking funding support for the work of the collaborative, 3) building knowledge of the political landscape, to better identify potential policy champions for the issue, and 4) building a shared understanding of the issue, specifically collecting and discussing reliable data substantiating a community problem and assessing the community’s assets and gaps. The article describes the challenge of establishing the policy legitimacy of the problem as well as getting and staying on the public agenda, collecting more segmented information on the target population. A portion of the research effort is funded by the federal demonstration project, from the U. S. DHHS Office of Adolescent Health, Pregnancy Assistance Fund.

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