Hoyleton | Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Bringing Real Change to Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Teen birth rates in the United States are at a record low, dropping below 18 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 for the first time since the government began regularly collecting data on this group. In fact, the birth rate was less than half of what it had been in 2008. But despite these rapid declines across all major racial and ethnic groups, disparities still exist. The birth rate for Hispanic and Black teens remains almost double the rate among white teens.

A curriculum to educate and bring positive change

Hoyleton Youth & Family Services continues to work throughout communities in central and southern Illinois to teach young people pregnancy prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. “Our teen pregnancy prevention program is a community-based program that provides education about adolescent relationships, self-esteem, and safe sex methods,” says Shannon Boyer, Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Specialist. “The curriculum is delivered over a series of weeks and seeks to empower young people to make informed decisions.”

Funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services, the program is brought to schools and community groups by the Hoyleton team, who facilitates sessions using evidence-based curricula. “With the pandemic continuing, we have been able to pivot and provide sessions in different ways, including virtually, to meet the needs of those we support,” says Shannon.

Along with the program, Hoyleton also created a resource guide for youth and their parents to provide contact information to local community partners that also support many of the topics discussed. “We also want to make sure that caregivers reinforce many of the key talking points we provide,” says Shannon. “We provide online resources and discussion topics to bring up with the youth as a supplement...”

Grant awarded to further reinforce and strengthen services

To further strengthen their work in this area, Hoyleton also applied for a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. “T1P1 (Tier 1 Phase 1) is a pilot program that is set up for providers in Illinois to replicate programs that have been proven effective to reduce teenage pregnancy,” says Kristen Shinn, Director of Community Support Services. “By doing this initial research, we can identify how to bring effective programs to scale and build the knowledge-based on understanding what elements and factors are important to broad program success.”

Hoyleton was awarded the grant, which gives them specific curriculums to provide to vulnerable teen populations. Curriculums include Promoting Health Among Teens and Love Notes 3.0 Evidence-Based Program. These programs will join the other curriculums, Making Proud Choices, and Be Proud! Be Responsible, that the agency uses to educate young people.

The new evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention curriculums are very similar to the education Hoyleton provides through its Teen Pregnancy Prevention- Personal Responsibility Education Program. “We currently provide the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program to residential facilities in the central and southern Illinois region. With the new T1P1 Program, we will now go into middle and high schools as well as alternate schools and community-based settings in St. Clair County to facilitate the curriculums,” says Kristen. “It really reinforces and strengthens the work we are already doing in our communities to make real change.”

Paving a way forward to remove stigma and provide support

“We see so often how schools and parents set an expectation that the other will provide this needed education to youth,” says Shannon. “We want to remove the stigma and normalize the conversation so it can be discussed in a safe and comfortable environment as well as give them resources for additional information. We encourage schools and parents to provide a safe space to have these discussions with youth.”

“Our goal is to continue to grow our programs into other communities so we can best provide the education youth need to make smart decisions and to protect themselves,” says Kristen. “And so much of this is made possible by the tremendous support and partnerships we have with local schools and community groups.”

To learn more about Hoyleton’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs and how they can partner with your school or group, please visit:  https://hoyleton.org/programs/community-outreach/teen-pregnancy-prevention/

Hoyleton | Teen Pregnancy Prevention

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, and a time to reflect on the impact this program is having on our nation’s teen pregnancy rate. With each passing year, teen pregnancy rates continue to decline. However, the program’s mission remains relevant. While there is an overall decrease, the data highlights the disparities in teen pregnancy rates among vulnerable population groups, particularly homeless youth, youth in foster care, and youth involved in the juvenile justice system.1

Hoyleton is on the frontline in providing an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention curriculum for our youth in care and youth facilities within the southern Illinois region. The Making Proud Choices—Youth in Care curriculum is tailored to meet the needs of at-risk youth. Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Specialist, Amber Davis, meets with youth for one-hour sessions, over eight weeks, to discuss a range of topics from creating healthy relationships to understanding risky behavior and consequences. The curriculum engages youth in a way that accommodates different adolescent learning styles. Every week, the sessions concentrate on a new topic with an accompanying video. Youth are encouraged to participate in interactive activities to engage with the material and each other. Often, youth in care do not have an opportunity to discuss intimate, personal topics with family members and are looking for a trusted adult to help them navigate adolescence and adulthood.  TPP Specialist Davis noted, “The youth are open to having honest discussions on pregnancy prevention. Our youth have questions, and they want answers. Often, they are willing to lead the discussion. The youth are engaged and getting what they need out of the program.”

Hoyleton’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention program is available as a community resource and offers an array of publications to help parents, caregivers, and community leaders initiate a conversation about healthy relationships and sexual health. As TPP Specialist Davis clarified, “Having a conversation about sexual health does not give youth the green light to have sex. Talking about sex is the most preventative thing a parent/caregiver can do. This is a chance to openly discuss your values, which will mean so much to your child.” For more information regarding teen pregnancy prevention or access to sexual health resources, call the Hoyleton Prevention Department at 618.688.4739.

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Population Affairs. About Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Retrieved from: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/grant-programs/teen-pregnancy-prevention-program-tpp/about/index.html

LGBTQ Support Group

“All young people, regardless of what they look like, which religion they follow, who they love, or the gender they identify with, deserve the chance to dream and grow in a loving, permanent home.”

National Foster Care Month 2015 Presidential Proclamation

Throughout the United States, there are over 400,000 children and youth in the foster care system. 1The Children’s Bureau estimates that LGBTQ youth are over-represented within the foster care system. In the general population, 5 to 10 percent of youth identify as LGBTQ. Within the foster care system, 24 percent of females and 10 percent of males self-identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Great strides have been made to educate individuals regarding the welfare of LGBTQ youth in care. However, misconceptions and our own inherent biases leave LGBTQ youth vulnerable to abuse. 

While LGBTQ youth find themselves in foster care for many of the same reasons as other youth, these youth live at the intersection of multiple identities. While grappling to understand who they are and their place in society, LGBTQ youth carry the additional weight of processing race, class, gender identity, and sexual orientation in often hostile environments.

Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, in partnership with William and Associates, is providing a safe space for LGBTQ youth in care to process their feelings and openly discuss matters that affect their lives. An LGBTQ Support Group meets on the third Wednesday of each month. The group discusses various life events, and covers an array of topics from building healthy relationships with partners and caregivers, to navigating how to handle discrimination in school, on the job, or within the community. LGBTQ youth, referred by their case manager, to Hoyleton's Wraparound Program, benefit from a non-traditional support system. As part of the Wraparound Program, LGBTQ youth have access to support that is tailored to meet their specific needs. If a youth requires clothing while transitioning, the Wraparound program has access to resources to meet the need. Advocates are there to provide a safe space so LGBTQ youth in foster care can live their best life. 

Like everyone, LGBTQ youth are looking for a loving, nurturing environment where they can thrive. The Wraparound Program offers a quarterly class to Foster Care Parents and LGBTQ Youth. The class provides an opportunity to have open, honest discussions about fostering LGBTQ youth, dispelling misconceptions, using gender-neutral language, and other topics that promote open lines of communication and provide a welcoming home environment for LGBTQ youth.

By educating ourselves and our communities, Hoyleton is helping to promote equality and a safe home for all youth in care. For more information on the LGBTQ Support Group or to mentor youth within the LGBTQ community, please call the Wraparound Program at 618.688.4741. Together, we can provide a safe space where all young people can thrive. 


1Children’s Welfare Information Gateway (Children’s Bureau/Administration for Children and Families/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) (May 2013). Supporting Your LGBTQ Youth: A Guide for Foster Parents. Retrieved from: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/LGBTQyouth/

2William and Associates is a community-based outreach organization focused on addressing healthcare disparities in minority communities in the St. Louis bi-state region. William and Associates provides preventative health education, disease prevention, and health promotion by working with individuals to gain access to quality healthcare and foster relationships that build trust between care providers and the community. For more information, visit http://minorityhealthstl.org/.

National Human Trafficking Awareness | Myths vs. Facts

Can you identify which scenario involves sex trafficking?

  1. Michelle, age 15, lives in an unstable home environment. She attends a party with high school friends at Daniel’s house. Knowing Michelle’s situation, Daniel offers to let Michelle sleep on his couch if she has sex with him. 
  2. Elizabeth, age 17, has been in a relationship with her boyfriend Michael for five months. Michael tells Elizabeth that money is tight and she has to help pay the bills by sleeping with a few of his friends. Elizabeth has sex with Michael’s friend. Michael receives $75 from his friend for having sex with Elizabeth. 
  3. Catherine is 21 years old and from a small rural town when she meets Jonathan, the man of her dreams. Jonathan promises to take away and show her an exciting new life. Cathrine agrees and makes her way to Jonathan and the new life she envisions. Once she arrives, Jonathan forces her to perform sexual acts for money. 


The answer is ALL three scenarios are examples of sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is defined as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, providing, or obtaining of a person for a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Or, in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age.”1

Learn the Terms

The term sex trafficking is a relatively new legal term in comparison with other distinct crimes. As more individuals become aware of this epidemic, both domestically and internationally, advocates for children continue to push for legislation to protect minors. The Illinois Safe Children Act of 20102 moved to not prosecute individuals under the age of 18 who performed a sexual act in exchange for anything of monetary value. The change in the criminal code addressed that a minor cannot consent to the commercial sexual exploitation of their bodies, and therefore be convicted of prostitution. Minors who are coerced or lured into commercial exploitation are immune from prosecution and are victims. However, a minor can be detained by law enforcement for their safety.

End the Trafficking

Ending human trafficking starts with educating ourselves on the topic and helping to raise awareness. We encourage individuals, organizations, and church groups to partner with Hoyleton’s Prevention Department on how you can make an impact in your community.  Individuals can support the Prevention Department’s Healing And Loving Oneself (HALO) program in providing care to our clients with a monetary donation, or gift cards (in small denominations for food, cell service, etc.). Together, we can protect our children’s childhood and their futures. One Voice. One Mission. End Human Trafficking. 

To contact our Prevention Department, call 618.688.4739. If you are contributing to this program, please note on your gift as the HALO program

1United States Department of Justice.  (October 28, 2000). The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. (22 U.S.C. (7102 (9)). Retrieved from: https://www.justice.gov/humantrafficking2Illinois General Assembly. (August 20, 2010). Illinois Safe Children Act of 2010. (Bill Status of HB6462). Retrieved from:http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=6462&GAID=10&DocTypeID=HB&LegId=52490&SessionID=76&GA=96

To learn more about human trafficking, watch for our next blog next week.

HALO | Healing and Loving Oneself

Hoyleton's HALO program (Healing and Loving Oneself) is an in-community care service designed to raise awareness around human trafficking and support at-risk individuals between the ages 11-25 who are at risk or victims/ survivors of human trafficking. Survivors of human trafficking include individuals who have been trafficked for labor services and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). Through both grass-roots effort and state involvement, HALO is reaching out to individuals who find themselves in difficult situations and vulnerable to exploitation. By raising awareness in the community, HALO advocates are changing the way society defines and relates to individuals who have been exploited. 

Youth who have been trafficked were once viewed as criminals within the justice system and now are considered victims. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 defined trafficking and related offenses as federal crimes. The framework of the TVPA of 2000 brought the legislative power to focus on protecting, prosecuting, and preventing human trafficking domestically and internationally. The Illinois Safe Children Act of 2010 further solidified that youth who are lured or coerced into commercial sexual acts would be immune from criminal prosecution. Both legislative acts opened a dialogue and the need for language sensitivity in defining and protecting youth who have been exploited. Previous use of the term juvenile prostitution implies the child was a willing participant in the exploitation rather than a victim. By removing references to juvenile prostitution from the Illinois criminal code, it changes how law enforcement and community service providers view and treat youth who have been exploited. Now under the law, children are not arrested for soliciting but rather placed under the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) guardianship. At times, a youth may be detained by law enforcement for their protection and safety.

HALO’s trauma-informed model is woven into the program and strives to provide a safe space where youth who have been exploited can process their experience. Youth are referred to the HALO program through either DCFS or concerned community members. HALO advocates work to meet an individual’s needs, sometimes even starting with a client’s most basic need for food, a safe place, and clothes. As the youth and HALO advocate continues to build a bond of trust, attention is given to healing and processing their experience. It is common for a client to reject the label associated with their experience—human trafficking. Only by discussing and understanding what defines a healthy relationship/environment, can a survivor begin to make sense of their story. The HALO program fosters a positive sense of self and empowerment through learning life skills, creating/maintaining healthy attachments, trigger recognition, and learning coping mechanisms. 

Success for the youth is incremental. And each step forward in their recovery is to be celebrated. It is the goal of HALO to help each youth realize and maximize their potential. For more information regarding HALO or human trafficking advocacy, call the Prevention Department at 618.688.4739. Together we can protect our children’s childhood. One Voice. One Mission. End Human Trafficking.