Integrating Positive Youth Development into PREP Programming

Publication Date: April 9, 2021
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  • Published: 2021


The Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) is one of the largest federally funded programs designed to address adolescent pregnancy. PREP is administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). PREP grantees have flexibility to design and implement their programs, provided they adhere to requirements in the legislation to: (1) implement evidence-based or evidence-informed curricula; (2) provide education on abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV; (3) educate youth on at least three of six adulthood preparation subjects (APSs) to support the transition to adulthood; and (4) focus on high-risk populations. The APSs include: healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, parent-child communication, education and career success, and healthy life skills.


FYSB and the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) within ACF contracted with Mathematica and its partner, Child Trends, to develop conceptual models to help PREP grantees and other practitioners implement the APSs, as well as a unified framework that cuts across subjects. The conceptual models are to help PREP grantees understand and select APSs, develop APS-related content, and target specific outcomes in their programs.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • Intentionally incorporate PYD practices into program design and implementation. Grantees should employ this comprehensive approach throughout the lifespan of PREP programming, from the initial planning and design phases through delivery and implementation.
  • Invest long-term in high-quality, trained staff who demonstrate a commitment to PYD practices. Program staff are the key mechanism by which PYD practices are consistently applied. By conducting careful staff recruitment, providing relevant training, and working to retain high-performing staff, programs taking a PYD approach can ensure continuous high-quality implementation.
  • Explore ways to grow and support the evidence base for PYD. Existing research on PYD as an approach for improving youth programming is promising, but continued examination remains critical. PREP grantees can contribute to the growing knowledge base by leveraging relevant PREP performance measure data and incorporating a PYD lens into research and evaluation efforts.


The APS study team developed the conceptual models and unified framework using a multi-staged, iterative process. For each APS, the study team followed several steps that incorporated multiple data sources to develop and then refine the conceptual model and description of supporting research. Throughout the process, ACF reviewed the developing models.

To develop this brief, the authors reviewed research literature on PYD. The authors synthesized information from this literature about the evidence-base of PYD, how to implement it in youth programming, and how to staff programs that use PYD. 


Moore, Kristin A., Andrea Vazzano, Isabel Griffith, Mindy E. Scott, and Deana Around Him. (2021). Integrating Positive Youth Development into PREP Programming. OPRE Report # 2021-19. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.