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Colorado’s Family Planning Game-Changing Program

Posted By Jody Camp, Friday, February 12, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Beginning in 2008, the Colorado Department of Public Health’s (CDPHE) Family Planning Program (FPP) received an eight-year, private donation to the program. Through the privately funded Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI), the FPP expanded access to the most effective long-acting methods of contraception, specifically intrauterine devices (IUD) and contraceptive implants, throughout the state. The results have been astounding:
  • Since the start of the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, the birth rate for young women ages 15 to19 has been cut nearly in half, falling 48 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • A similar downward trend can be seen among women ages 20 to 24, with birth rates dropping 20 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • The number of repeat teen births (teens giving birth for the second or third time, etc.) dropped 58 percent between 2009 and 2014.
  • The abortion rate among women 15-19 fell by 48 percent and among women 20-24 by 18 percent between 2009 and 2014.
“Similar to Colorado, Mesa County’s unintended pregnancy rate continues to decrease. However, our teen birth rate is 30% higher than the state. As a result of Colorado LARC funding, Mesa County efforts to address unintended pregnancy have been successful. In 2015 our LARC procedures were double those in 2014 and triple from 2013. Because of Colorado LARC funding, we are able to keep units in stock, allowing for same-day attention to patients. We know through experience that asking clients to wait several days for an appointment or asking them to return for subsequent visits increases the likelihood they’ll not follow through with a procedure. The LARC program is one of the few public health efforts to have measurable community impacts in a fairly short amount of time.”

Jeff Kuhr, PhD, Executive Director, Mesa County Health Department
CDPHE’s LARC Program has brought a local and national spotlight to the effectiveness of long-acting, reversible contraceptive use and the health, economic and social impacts it makes to society. The following are a few highlights:
  • The Family Planning Program (FPP) submitted a journal article to Guttmacher Institute’s Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. The article entitled, "Game Change in Colorado: Widespread Use of LARC Methods and Rapid Decline in Births among Young Low-Income Women".
  • To assist with the dissemination of the journal article, Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, and CDPHE Executive Director, Dr. Larry Wolk, co-hosted a press conference at the Colorado Capitol Building in July 2014. The press attention was overwhelmingly positive, including these examples:
Looking to the future, the Family Planning Program aims to build on its past successes and ensure the sustainability of the LARC program. Most recently, the FPP is working on a potential project to fund school-based health centers that provide family planning services. In addition, relationships are being built with birthing hospitals around the state to partner on post-partum LARC insertion. CDPHE has also submitted a request to Colorado's Joint Budget Committee to increase funding to the CDPHE Family Planning Program to sustain this momentum.
Jody Camp, MPH is Family Planning Section Manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. To learn more about Maternal & Child Health epidemiology, join the MCH Subcommittee and explore related activities.

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