To begin dealing realistically with the national concern about adolescent pregnancy, we must accept that there are no quick-fix solutions or single-intervention programs which will, by themselves, impact the problems that take such a huge toll on the lives of almost 750,000 U.S. women ages 15 –19 who become pregnant each year. Americans spend $10.9 billion annually on costs associated with teen parents and their children, including increased costs for health care, foster care, incarceration, and lost tax revenue. More difficult to quantify are the lost educational and vocational opportunities that teen parents and their children will experience. We simply cannot "teach" our way out of this problem by sending young people home with dolls for the weekend and hoping they will learn the responsibilities of being a parent. Cognitive and silo approaches alone are insufficient to meet this challenge and misunderstand the complexity of this issue.
In fact, educating young people about abstinence, sexually responsible behavior, and the avoidance of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections requires that we first reduce hopelessness and fatalism and begin to produce life changes that generate a genuine desire in adolescents not to become pregnant. The desire to live a long, successful, and productive life and to achieve mastery over life's many challenges are what produce a genuine delay in the onset of intercourse or in the conscientious and consistent use of contraceptives if intercourse is chosen. When teens believe they have value and a real chance for success, they start to see a future in which teen pregnancy has no part.
The CAS-Carrera program model is designed to create a healthy environment where young people can identify their gifts and talents and begin the progress towards healthy growth and development. We put a premium on engaging teens, maintaining this gentle and generous engagement even when a young person seems not to care. Teens often forget what we say or do, but they rarely forget how we make them feel. We help by caring, being present, forgiving, offering a stable environment, and always communicating that they are special. Caring is the context in which all help occurs. Genuine caring for teens is our principle currency. They prevent pregnancy, we do not.