The proportion of clients under 20 years who received services at New York State Department of Health’s (NYS DOH) network of 49 family planning providers decreased by 15.3% between 2011 and 2014. During this time, the proportion of clients aged 20 to 24 years decreased by 8.2%.8 At the end of October, the 2015-2016 NYS Center of Excellence for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services (NYS COE) Learning Collaborative convened representatives from 11 family planning provider agencies for its first in-person Learning Session. The participating agencies, who applied to participate in this 7-month Learning Collaborative, have made a commitment to work diligently to address the decreasing proportion of adolescents and young adults receiving Title X services through their family planning programs. As part of this commitment, these agencies will apply the principles of performance management to explore how outreach efforts, clinic systems, staff attitudes and beliefs, and community partnerships impact the number of adolescents and young adults served at one selected health center site.
During the first Learning Session, participants explored adolescent brain development. Adolescents experience drastic physical and cognitive changes during these formative years. Recognizing the different stages of adolescent development can assist providers in understanding why health care seeking and service utilization patterns among adolescents may vary from those of adult clients. Participants recognized that, in order to meet the needs of this population, it is necessary to reconsider certain scheduling practices that limit same-day and walk-in appointments. As a next step, participating agencies will examine their current appointment policies and explore ways to optimize scheduling practices to increase access for adolescent and young adult clients.
In addition to examining scheduling practices, Learning Collaborative participants were eager to explore staff attitudes and beliefs around providing sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and young adults. Staff at all levels play a critical role in client satisfaction. Nevertheless, as health care agencies make an effort to adopt best practices to improve the client experience, one factor that often is overlooked is how the attitudes and beliefs of staff can impact a client’s satisfaction with care received. This is especially important to consider when it comes to providing sexual and reproductive health services to priority populations. In order to address this, the NYS COE developed and distributed an anonymous staff attitudes and beliefs survey, to be administered among all staff at participating agencies’ selected health center site. Data collected from the survey will be collated and analyzed by CAI staff, and will be presented to Learning Collaborative Improvement Teams during the second Learning Session in January.
To date, some of the steps implemented by agencies participating in the 2015 2016 NYS COE Learning Collaborative include: training staff on adolescent development; updating policies and procedures to reflect evidence-based practices in clinical service provision; strengthening community partnerships; and instituting daily morning huddles to review and support continuous quality improvement efforts. There is no doubt that these highly motivated agencies will continue to make great strides towards improving access to family planning services for adolescents and young adults. The NYS COE will continue to support these family planning providers by offering training and technical assistance in the upcoming months.
The 11 agencies participating in the current Learning Collaborative are:
- Community Healthcare Network
- Family Planning of South Central New York
- Greene County Family Planning
- Harlem Hospital Center
- Kaleida Health Family Planning Center
- Morris Heights Health Center
- Oswego County Opportunities
- Planned Parenthood Nassau County
- Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York
- Planned Parenthood of the North Country New York
- Public Health Solutions
8 New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Women, Infant, and Adolescent Health (2015). Family Planning Program Client Visit Record data, 2011-2014