SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico has no clear strategy on how to keep decreasing what is currently the second-highest rate of teens giving birth nationwide, according to a legislative report out this week.
The Legislative Finance Committee report said inconsistent implementation of comprehensive standards for sex education may be a contributing factor. Public schools are required to instruct students on various ways to prevent pregnancy, but not all of them do, the findings stated.
Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, serves on the Legislature's appropriations committee and plays a role in funding state agencies that address teen pregnancy.
"Year after year, we fund agencies, and it's supposed to be needs-based. But we don't always ask what success looks like," Lundstrom told the Santa Fe New Mexican.
It appears that even in counties with sold school-based health clinic programs, teen pregnancy seems to occur at a higher rate, Lundstrom said. Some clinic programs offer health screenings and treatment but not contraception, according to health officials.
"Obviously they're not getting enough support, including referral support," Lundstrom said. "If a school-based program had additional support for referrals to other agencies, I think they'd be much more successful."