Using Conceptual Models to Tailor Programming on Adulthood Preparation Subjects to Pregnant and Parenting Youth

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. This brief offers guidance to grantees on how to tailor APS-related content to pregnant and parenting youth.

Key Findings and Highlights

Tailoring APS programming to pregnant and parenting youth can help them navigate adult responsibilities and establish a healthy family. Skill building in such topics as life skills, healthy relationships, and parent—child communication can help youth with making decisions, establishing a healthy environment for their child, and meeting financial, educational, or career goals. By using the APS conceptual models, grantees can build a framework to develop APS programming that can best meet the needs of the pregnant and parenting youth they serve.


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. The steps involved:

  1. Conducting a targeted review of research literature for each of the six APSs and summarizing information from the reviewed articles to develop the initial APS conceptual models.
  2. Working with consultants on the early stages of model development, including to develop initial working definitions and search terms to guide the literature review for each APS and to review early drafts of the models and supporting narratives.
  3. Interviewing selected PREP grantees and providers about their APS programming. Topics included how grantees chose which APSs to cover, whether they covered APSs through their existing curriculum for pregnancy and STI prevention or through additional resources, and who taught the APSs.
  4. Coordinating a stakeholder review to solicit feedback on each conceptual model and supporting narrative. The team engaged PREP grantees, federal agencies, external organizations, and experts to ensure the models aligned with existing and best practices.

To develop this brief, the study team closely examined the six APS conceptual models to provide guidance on how grantees can tailor APS programming to meet the needs of pregnant and parenting youth.


Crowley, Jacqueline, Katie Adamek, and Heather Zaveri. Using Conceptual Models to Tailor Programming on Adulthood Preparation Subjects to Pregnant and Parenting Youth. OPRE Report # 2021-18. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.