Pomponio said the decrease likely was due to a collaborative approach that includes community organizations and community-based initiatives working with the state Department of Health and Human Resources, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, and others to improve health education, expand access to contraceptives and prepare youths for parenting.
"The report really highlights specific best practices and policies that will help improve health education, increase access to health care and expand knowledge of health care available to teens and their parents," Pomponio said.
"We've been working on framing this issue as a positive opportunity so that youth and parents and educators and health care providers can feel empowered to move forward rather than the negative, heavy weight of statistics.
"When young people are in control of their reproductive lives, they are much more likely to be in control throughout their lives - make healthier decisions and contribute to healthier communities in West Virginia."
West Virginia spends $67 million on teen childbearing, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. In addition to that cost, teen childbearing is associated with high dropout rates, reduced academic achievement and poverty, according to WV FREE.
To continue to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in West Virginia, WV FREE offers a number of strategies: expanding the hours of operation for primary care centers, enabling timely youth access to emergency contraception, implementing comprehensive, evidence-based sexuality education, ensuring community activities are available to young people, assessing parental attitudes toward sex education and supporting an honest, open approach to sexuality.
"WV FREE is really heartened by the commitment and attention to this issue by policy makers, educators, health care providers, parents, state agencies and private agencies," Pomponio said.
She said the decrease indicates the collaborative approach is working and needs further support.