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Children's Aid Society (CAS) - Carrera Programs

Overview of the Curriculum

The Children's Aid Society developed the Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program (CAS-Carrera) which uses a holistic approach to empower youth; help them develop personal goals and cultivate the desire for a productive future; develop their sexual literacy; and educate them about the consequences of sexual activity. CAS-Carrera begins working with boys and girls at age 10 or 11 and follows them through high school and beyond. Guided by a philosophy that sees youth as "at promise" not "at risk," CAS-Carrera builds a participant's capacity and desire to avoid pregnancy.

Curriculum Sessions

The program model is implemented in two ways:

  • A traditional afterschool, youth development approach six days a week (including Saturdays), year-round including a summer program; and
  • An in-school model incorporated into the school-day schedule of a public or charter school, beginning typically with grade 6 and enrolling each succeeding grade annually until the entire school is receiving the model. Class time for components is provided during the school day through advisory and guidance periods, resource time, and other amenable periods where CAS - Carrera staff can deliver programming. The in-school model also runs six days a week (including Saturdays), year-round including a summer program.

Unique Features of the Curriculum

The model includes seven fundamental components:

  1. Education: Daily engagement includes one-on-one or small group tutoring, PSAT and SAT preparation, and college trips. Individual academic plans for participants are developed;
  2. Employment: Weekly Job Club class is a full introduction to financial literacy and the "world of work," including opening bank accounts, exploring career choices and providing summer and part-time jobs. Participants are paid a stipend and make monthly deposits in their bank accounts;
  3. Family Life and Sexuality Education (FLSE): Weekly medically and scientifically comprehensive sexuality education sessions are taught in an age-appropriate fashion;
  4. Mental Health Services: Weekly discussion sessions called Power Group are led by certified social workers; 24 hour counseling and crisis intervention as needed;
  5. Full Medical and Dental Care: No cost, comprehensive medical and dental services are provided in partnership with local providers;
  6. Self-Expression: Multiple exposures to music, dance, writing and drama workshops are led by theater and art professionals, where children can discover talents and build self-esteem; and
  7. Lifetime Individual Sports: Multiple exposures to a program emphasizing sports that build self-discipline, impulse control and can be enjoyed throughout life, including golf, tennis, squash, swimming, and bowling.

Theoretical Framework

The program is designed to employ several different strategies, such as:

  • Employing a "parallel family systems" approach, where staff treat the teens as their own children;
  • Treating each participant as if he or she has potential;
  • Employing a holistic approach to providing services, whereby the services are tailored (when possible) to the interests and needs of the participants;
  • Developing a continuous and long-term contract with participants, through which the teens have individual planning and tracking 12 months a year through the end of high school;
  • Providing services in the community for participants and their parents;
  • Practicing a non-punitive, gentle, generous and forgiving approach; and
  • Reducing program fragmentation by providing a variety of services at one location in the participant's community.

Ordering Information

Ordering:
To order and for more information, contact the Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, www.stopteenpregnancy.com.

Evaluation Fact Sheet

Intervention

CAS – Carrera is a youth development program which meets daily during or after-school. The program activities, lasting three to five hours per day, include job club and career exploration, academic tutoring and assistance, comprehensive sex education, including information about abstinence and contraception, arts workshops, individual sports activities and activities to develop interpersonal skills. There is a summer program component which offers enrichment activities, employment assistance, and tutoring. Comprehensive health care, including primary care, access to social services and also mental, dental, and reproductive health care are provided.

Behavioral Findings

Knowledge

  • Overall after three years, program participants' knowledge of sexual health issues rose by 22 percent, compared to 11 percent among control youth, a statistically significant difference.
  • Male participants showed higher sexual health knowledge gains than did control males (18 and six percent, respectively.)

Behavior

  • Delayed initiation of sexual intercourse: Program young women were significantly less likely than control females to have ever had sex; 46 percent had never had sex versus 34 percent of control females.
  • Increased resistance to sexual pressure: Females in the program were significantly more likely than those in the control group to say they had successfully resisted pressure to have sex (75 percent and 36 percent, respectively).
  • Increased use of contraception and condoms together: Sexually experienced program females were significantly more likely than control females to have used a condom along with another effective method of contraception (i.e., the pill, injection, or implant) at most recent sex (36 percent and 20 percent, respectively).
  • Increased receipt of good health care: Both male and female participants had significantly increased odds of receiving good health care. Among sexually experienced males, the proportion that had made a visit for reproductive health care was significantly higher among program than control males (74 and 46 percent, respectively).
  • Other findings related to young men: Overall, program males showed no positive, significant behavioral differences relative to control males, except increased receipt of good health care. Program males were less likely than control males to report use of dual methods of contraception at most recent sex.

Researchers speculated that the program effects may have been weaker among young men, in part because:

  1. Young men who had initiated sex prior to enrolling in the program were the least likely to attend regularly.
  2. Strong social norms among these inner-city young males might stress the benefits of early sexual intercourse and parenthood.
  3. Program males may not have repeated the program's messages to their non-enrolled female partners.

The data suggest that reaching young men sooner may strengthen outcomes, and, as a result, the Children's Aid Society has begun implementing programs with 11- and 12-year-old males.

Long-Term Impact

Reduced rates of teen pregnancy: At third-year follow-up, females in the Children's Aid Society—Carrera Program had significantly lower rates of pregnancy and births than did control females.

Research Design

A total of approximately 1200 students in New York City, Maryland, Florida, Texas, Oregon and Washington participated in the research study. Forty-seven percent of the sample was black; the balance comprised a combination of other racial/ethnic backgrounds. About one-sixth of the families received public assistance or Medicaid and did not have a working adult in the house; another third lived in families with only one of those conditions. About half of the teens were from single-parent homes and homes that had reported family member unemployment.

Philliber, Kaye and Herrling (2001) conducted a rigorous, three-year, random assignment evaluation of the CAS-Carrera program. This evaluation collected data from 12 sites CAS-Carrera program sites. Approximately 100 students at each site were recruited and randomly assigned to the CAS-Carerra program or an alternative (control) program. Eligibility to participate was based on the following criteria: the teens were not enrolled in an ongoing, structured after-school program; they were ages 13, 14 or 15 on July 1, 1997, (New York) or January 1, 1998 (other sites); and they were not pregnant or parenting at the time of recruitment. On average, participants attended the program for 12 hours per month over the three evaluation years, during which the greatest amount of time was spent receiving educational support (tutoring, etc.). By the end of the third year, the program reported a 70 percent retention rate.

Evaluation data were drawn from various sources, including annual participant surveys; pre- and post-tests of knowledge on sexuality topics; attendance data; follow-up data collected by program staff; and interviews of program staff, conducted by the research team.

References

Philliber, S., Kaye, J. & Herrling, S. (May, 2001). The national evaluation of the children's aid society carrera-model program to prevent teen pregnancy. New York: Philliber Research Associates.

Philliber, S., Williams Kaye, J., Herrling, S., & West, E. (2002). Preventing pregnancy and improving health care access among teenagers: An evaluation of the Children’s Aid Society–Carrera Program. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34(5), 244–251.

Manlove, J., Terry-Humen, E., Romano Papillo, A., Franzetta, K., Williams, S., & Ryan, S. (2001). Background for community-level work on positive reproductive health in adolescence: Reviewing the literature on contributing factors. Washington, DC: Child Trends.