BWIAH Provider Days – What did your colleagues think?

It’s always great to have face-to-face time with all of you, and for us that was certainly a highlight of the 2017 Bureau of Women, Infant and Adolescent Health (BWIAH) Provider Days. Amy has compiled the evaluations to give us a sense of how it all went for you, and how we can improve in the future. Here are some of our takeaways.

Registration and communication before the event was more difficult or confusing for people whose agencies work with more than one Center of Excellence.

  • If we have this opportunity again, we should work on clarifying the audience for each day and streamlining the registration process across COEs.

The hotel itself received mostly positive reviews – but the few who had a bad experience had a very bad experience. Your comments ranged from “Beautiful” and “Love it!” to “Horrible.” However, there were many comments on the location and size of the hotel, and despite our own positive experience with the conference planners at this hotel we will explore other options.

  • Many noted that the distance from the train station and lack of a shuttle made for expensive taxi rides.
  • Food options were limited by the location, and meant that many of you had to brave crossing the highway. As one participant put it, “Street crossing was like the video game Frogger.”

We were unable to provide lunch, coffee, or snacks because of the terms or our funding, and we were unable to negotiate an affordable lunch buffet or boxed lunch option for you with the hotel. Some of you found the 90-minute lunch break a waste of time, others appreciated the breather.

The May 9 plenaries, meetings with program advisors, and workshops were all rated as valuable with very few dissenters. Nearly all of you seem to have found the content useful. (Or are you just trying to make us feel good?)

The May 10 evaluations tell us you thought the day overall did a good job of meeting its objectives, especially the goal of “recognizing the opportunities for collaboration among community providers.” The speakers—especially Tom Klaus—were appreciated and presented useful information.

Community meetings got mixed reviews. Some of the groups were bigger than anticipated, so the noise level in the ballroom was a real problem. Some providers noted that they have limited opportunities for collaboration in their own regions. But some regional groups were excited about meeting each other, and we’ve heard of at least two regions that are already planning to meet again. In general, opportunities to network were rated highly, and 88% of you agreed (or strongly agreed) that the community meeting will enhance collaboration in your community.

Thank you for coming and sharing your opinions! What else do you want us to know? Has any part of Provider Days stuck with you? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 – Jutta

Reviewing Cycles Before Submitting Them into the ORS

We’re excited about how well people have taken to the Online Reporting System (ORS)! At the same time, we know there’s a learning curve, and we’ve been seeing some errors come through. That’s why we ask you to review cycles before you press the “submit” button. To help with the review process, we’ve put together a brief presentation, which you can find here on the ACT for Youth website:

Reviewing Cycles Before Submitting Them into the Online Reporting System (MP4 presentation — we recommend using Firefox, Chrome, or Safari to view)

Slides only (PDF)

Regardless of how you are handling cycle review at your organization, the following things should always be checked (and fixed if need be) before submitting the cycle:

  • Have you entered the correct priority population and the correct setting for each cycle?
  • Do you have the right number of youth participants entered?
  • Do you have youth attendance entered correctly?
  • Have all activities been marked as either having been implemented or skipped?
  • Did you enter the correct number of sessions and are they marked with the correct date?

Most mistakes you can fix right on the “Review & submit cycle” page. A few things, such as deleting a blank session or blank participant, will need to be changed on the “Revise existing cycle / participants” page.

Adding this final check to your routine will keep your data accurate – and you won’t have to deal with our follow-up calls!

In the future you can find the presentation and slides right on the Online Reporting System information page.

Dora Welker
– Dora

What Do Youth Think about Birth Control Methods?

A few years back, the Department of Health asked the ACT COE to gather young people’s perspectives on family planning services. With the help of CAPP and PREP providers, we were able to speak with 336 youth in 36 focus groups all over New York State. What we found was, for the most part, not surprising: Many had confidentiality concerns centered around the fear that parents would find out or people would know their business. Youth were afraid of being judged by clinicians and other staff; talking about sex and contraception felt awkward; and clinics did not always seem friendly to youth. There were also fears about getting bad news at a clinic visit.

No surprises there. But to me, one finding did stand out: the overwhelming negative beliefs and attitudes that youth expressed about birth control methods.

Participants were asked to name contraceptive methods that they were aware of and briefly discuss each method. Our researchers counted the number of negative vs. positive remarks made about each contraceptive method – and in nearly every case, the negative comments far outweighed the positive comments.

Negative comments most often referred to side effects they had heard about, as well as perceived lack of reliability. Emergency contraception in particular was considered dangerous – and had five times as many negative comments as positive. The only method where the good edged out the bad? Abstinence. Abstinence was not mentioned as frequently as other methods, but youth clearly understood that it is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy. (It was also largely seen as unrealistic.)

This study is several years old. More recently, researchers in South Carolina* conducted a small focus group study with black and Latina/o youth in two counties. They found many of the same themes: young people expressed the need for private, confidential services in an environment that is friendly to teens. And again, negative feelings about birth control surfaced – especially with respect to side effects. As one teen put it when talking of contraception commercials, “I hate it when they say side effects may include dizziness, drowsiness, heart disease…I say no thank you.”

We know we need to work on the perception and reality of confidential services for youth. At the same time, let’s make sure youth are getting positive messages about birth control. The good news is, they’ve received positive messages about abstinence, and these messages appear to be getting through. How can we present other methods in a positive light as well? Teens who are now or will soon be sexually active do need to know the side effects of any method they are considering, but are they also hearing about convenience, effectiveness, ease of use, and accessibility?

What are your thoughts? Do you have strategies to share? Let us know in the comments.

Karen Schantz– Karen

*Galloway, C. T., Duffy, J. L., Dixon, R. P., & Fuller, T. R. (2017). Exploring African-American and Latino Teens’ Perceptions of Contraception and Access to Reproductive Health Care Services. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(3, Supplement), S57–S62.

You can find more on the ACT for Youth study here: Youth and Family Planning: Findings from a Focus Group Study (PDF)


Welcome (and Welcome Back) from the Technical Assistance Team!

Hello CAPP and PREP folks! Congratulations on being part of this statewide initiative. Some of you know who we are, and some of you are new to us, so we wanted to take advantage of The Hub and make a brief introduction to our new Technical Assistance structure at the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence.  For those of you “old timers,” you’ve seen or talked with the TA team in one way or another (Jutta, Heather, Michele, Divine, and Beth).  For you newer folks, HELLO from all of us.

With the new funding cycle, the ACT COE has developed a new structure for providing you with technical assistance. We have de-centralized the process so that we can quickly and personally respond to your needs.  We hope this new structure gives you a chance to know us better, as well as for us to get to know you better so that we can provide more personalized TA for you. Each of you now has a specific “dynamic duo” comprised of a TA and Evaluation Team member. These folks will be your go-to contacts for any questions or technical assistance needs you may have.  Thinking of making adaptations to your EBP? Contact your TA person. Have a question about the new online reporting system? Contact your Evaluation person. You can find out who your support team is here: TA/Evaluation Support Teams for CAPP and PREP (PDF). If you want to know more about what to expect, take a look at this Technical Assistance Guidance Document (PDF).

We may have already had the chance to talk with some of you through the Needs Assessment conversations we have been having with all of you. We have really enjoyed being able to talk with you, get to know you a bit better, and to hear what you’re looking forward to or what challenges you anticipate with this new funding cycle.

We are looking forward to working with all of you as we continue to support your good work with young people!

  – Beth

Slow Internet?

We realize that some providers might be lacking infrastructure for fast or wireless internet, and this could be affecting their ability to use the online reporting system and setting up tablets to collect youth survey data. While we can’t do anything about your internet service, we brainstormed some general solutions you can approach your organization’s IT support about.

  • Ask your IT support about firewalls or others blocks that might be limiting your access.
  • Consider using a tablet with a data plan to enter information in the online reporting system.
  • Ask your IT support about setting up a wireless router or adding a wireless access point to boost your connection.
  • If hardwired updates aren’t possible, explore the possibility of purchasing a mobile hotspot. Smart phones or tablets with a data plan can often serve as a hotspot, or separate mobile hotspot devices and plans can be purchased.

Once the early kinks are worked out, we are confident you will see the advantages of collecting data online! As always, if you have questions or are having problems with any of our online systems, be sure to let us know.

Amanda Purington, MPS – Mandy

The Hub!

Welcome to The Hub!, the blog of CAPP and PREP providers in New York State. Here the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence (ACT COE) will answer common questions and highlight tools, hot tips, and resources to help you meet your goals. Please comment, post your questions, and share your ideas here too!

A little housekeeping:

  • On your first comment, please include your agency name. (To reduce spam, we need to approve your first comment. After that, comments from your email address will be automatically approved–you’re good to go!)