HOPE Buffalo – Optimally Changing the MAP for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

HOPE Buffalo aims to increase optimal teen health and reduce teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates for adolescents aged 10-19 in Buffalo, New York.

Buffalo, New York, is consistently identified as one of the poorest cities in the United States. Youth living in Buffalo experience high rates of poverty and food insecurity, are impacted by low grades, test scores, and educational attainment, and are consistently linked to health behaviors including early sexual initiation, violence, and substance use. Youth in three Buffalo communities experience teen pregnancy rates over triple their state and county peers and double that of peers in Buffalo. Simultaneously, these youth experience disproportionally high STI rates.

The initiative

CAI’s HOPE Buffalo project is a community-led movement to reduce teen pregnancy and STI rates. It is a collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including teens and adults, working together to optimize teen health and well-being. CAI serves as the anchor organization, bringing expertise in authentic community engagement, data, training, and capacity building.

HOPE Buffalo has developed a four-part plan to achieve optimal teen health:

  • Implement evidence-based curricula for pre-adolescents and adolescents, their parents/caregivers, and providers. The initiative leverages existing school and community structures to ensure that young people receive age-appropriate, sequential, and consistent sexual health education from ages 10-19.
  • Support a referral and care linkage system to identify teens in need and link them to teen-affirming, community-based providers and resources.
  • Use social media and social marketing to promote community awareness and social norms associated with positive youth outcomes.
  • Facilitate a youth and community-driven approach that empowers and promotes ownership of the plan by the Buffalo community.

The impact

HOPE Buffalo partners’ accomplishments include:

  • Training teens to lead workshops for healthcare providers and other teens through PATCH, an innovative, youth-driven initiative. PATCH teens have trained more than 500 medical professionals to make their practices more friendly to young people.
  • Contributing to a 34 percent decrease in teen pregnancy rates from 2015–2020 in the zip codes that the HOPE Buffalo collaborative has served.
  • Offering training and resources for parents and caregivers of Black and Latinx adolescents that equip them with tools to have effective conversations that reduce sexual-risk behavior.

Project funder and key partners

  • Funder: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs.
  • Partners: Buffalo Public Schools, the Erie County Department of Health, and various community-based organizations

Leadership and contact

Bernadette Giles, Project Director: hopebuf@caiglobal.org

HOPE Buffalo Referral Guide

This guide was created with input from the youth of Buffalo. We thank them for their contributions. 

Teens in New York State have the right to get private medical care for reproductive health without permission from parents on anyone else. All of the organizations listed below offer services for teens. Use this guide to help you find services that fit your needs.

If you refer someone to any of these resources please fill out this form.

On this page:

Educational services

Educational resources include tutoring for those in high school, high school equivalency services for those not in school, and internship opportunities and college preparation assistance to help teens reach their goals.

Service providers

Healthy relationships training

Learning how to form safe and healthy relationships is an important aspect of adolescent development. A circle of caring and supportive adults and peers can help adolescents transition to adulthood.

Service providers

The following organizations provide one-on-one sessions around healthy relationships:

HIV/AIDS resources

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infection. Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviors and needle or syringe use. No cure exists for HIV, but with treatment HIV can be controlled. Everyone ages 13 to 64 should get tested for HIV at least once.

There is medication for people who are HIV-negative but at risk for HIV that can prevent HIV infection if they are exposed. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is daily medicine that can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. PrEP may be available from your primary care provider even if they are not on this list.

Service providers

The following resources provides testing, partner services, and PrEP services:

Intimate partner violence services and prevention

During adolescence, young people learn how to form safe and healthy relationships. Adolescents sometimes develop unhealthy relationships, and experience or exhibit intimate partner violence. Controlling and demanding behaviors often happen before violence occurs.

Over time, controlling and demanding behavior may become increasingly violent. Violence can have negative effects on physical and mental health throughout life. Victims of violence often feel trapped and are at risk for harm.

Adults can help by paying attention, talking to adolescents about how to build healthy, respectful relationships, and urging young people to get help.

Service providers

The following services include hotlines for crisis situations, safety planning, counseling, emergency shelter, and legal assistance:

Mental health services

Important mental health habits—including coping, resilience, and good judgement—help adolescents to achieve overall well-being and set the stage for positive mental health in adulthood. Friends and family can watch for warning signs of mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety disorders, and urge young people to get help. Effective treatments exist and may involve a combination of counseling and medication.

Most minors in New York are unable to consent for their own mental health care. Minors in the categories below can consent to any and all medical treatment confidentially, without involving a parent:

  • Emancipated minors: minors who are living on their own and are financially independent of their parents
  • Married minors
  • Minors who have children
  • Mature minors: minors who can give informed consent and are mature enough to make their own health care decisions. This determination is made by the health care provider
  • Minors in need of treatment necessary to their well-being and a parent or guardian is not reasonably available
  • Minors whose treatment would be negatively affected by requiring parental consent

Service providers

The following resources include urgent mental health services for crisis situations, counseling, and psychiatry services:

Pregnant and parenting resources

Pregnant and parenting teens are balancing their lives and planning for or being a parent. Ensuring that pregnant and parenting teens receive adequate social, emotional, medical, and academic support is essential to the parent and the baby’s future.

Service providers

The following resources provide case management, assistance with medical appointments and academic needs, parenting education and support, birth planning, breastfeeding education and support, and doula services:

Primary health care

Adolescence is a good time for children and youth to begin taking responsibility for their physical health—from what they eat to keeping fit to getting preventive check-ups. During this phase, adolescents with chronic conditions can begin to learn how to manage those conditions.

Most minors in New York are unable to consent for their own primary care. Minors in the below categories can consent to any and all medical treatment confidentially, without involving a parent:

  • Emancipated minors: minors who are living on their own and are financially independent of their parents
  • Married minors
  • Minors who have children
  • Mature minors: minors who can give informed consent and are mature enough to make their own health care decisions (as determined by the health care provider)

Service provider

The Neighborhood Health Center – Northwest  provides general health care, including routine checkups and non-emergency medical care; sees all patients regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation; and offers STD testing (urine) and treatment, pregnancy test (urine), and contraceptive counseling.

  • Walk-in appointments
  • Low or no-cost options available
  • Pregnancy testing
  • HIV testing
  • STD testing and treatment
  • Prescribes birth control
  • Birth control may be started same day
  • LGBTQ services

Reproductive health care

All of the health centers listed below:

  • Provide confidential sexual health services
  • Allow teens to see provider alone even if parent or partner is present
  • Will see teens for reproductive health services even if parent or partner not present
  • Ask about sexual history at every visit
  • Allow minors to give confidential contact information
  • Do not require a pelvic exam before starting birth control
  • Provide information and referrals to adoption and prenatal services
  • Offer low- or no-cost options
  • Offer walk-in appointments
  • Provide pregnancy testing, HIV testing, STD testing and treatment
  • Prescribe birth control, which may be started the same day
  • Offer LGBTQ services

Many health centers on this list offer long-acting contraceptives such as the implant and IUD (intrauterine device). Some clinics can sign patients up for the Family Planning Benefit Program (FPBP). FPBP is a public health insurance program for females and males who need family planning services but may not be able to afford them.

Service providers

Substance use services

Some adolescents use drugs that are not prescribed for them or are illegal to help their mood. Many factors and strategies can help adolescents stay drug free: strong positive connections with parents, other family members, school, and religion; having parents present clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline; and reduced access in the home to addictive substances.

Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, is the use of one or more substances that leads to a clinically significant harm or distress.

Service providers

The following resources include support groups, counseling, and treatment services:

Vocational education/workforce development

Education programs offered by the Buffalo Urban League prepare students for employment in current or emerging occupations and train them for entry into the workforce, career advancement, and entry into further education and training.

If you refer someone to any of these resources please fill out this form.