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Hennepin County gets $7.5 million to continue teen pregnancy prevention efforts

Officials say the Better Together Hennepin program cut teen pregnancies by 50 percent between 2007-2013.

Hennepin County’s successful teen pregnancy prevention effort, Better Together Hennepin, has received a $7.5 million federal grant to help continue the program for the next five years.

Officials said the program cut teen pregnancies by nearly 50 percent from its inception in 2007 to the end of 2013.

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said: “This grant recognizes our wonderful progress over the past five years and affirms that there is still much work to do. Preventing teen pregnancy is vital to Hennepin County’s vision of a future where our citizens are healthy and successful. With this funding, we will continue to fulfill that vision.”

The program works with schools and clinics using “evidence-based programming to increase young people’s access to high quality sex ed and reproductive health care, and works to create youth development opportunities and nurture connections to caring adults.”

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Katherine Meerse, Better Together Hennepin program manager, said: “Young people who postpone parenthood are more likely to finish high school and become contributing members of the workforce. Children born to adults are more likely to have a healthy birth weight and be prepared for school. Taxpayers profit from reduced welfare rolls and less spending on publicly funded medical care.”

The program focuses on parts of the county with the highest concentrations of teen pregnancies — Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Central and North Minneapolis, Richfield and Robbinsdale.

The county program will work with more than 32,000 young people over the next five years. The goal is to reduce teen birth rates by an additional 30 percent by 2020.