The CATCH Program: A Hit or Miss?
The New York Times article: “More Access to Contraceptives in City Schools” (September 23, 2012)
A new program titled CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare) started in January 2011 among 14, now 13, New York City high schools. CATCH offers reproductive health services, including condoms, birth control pills, pregnancy tests, and Plan B which are all distributed to students 17 years old and under by health department officials and school nurses. Before the program started, parents and families received forms to choose if they want to participate in the CATCH program or opt out of it. Only 1-2% of families chose to not participate, which can be a surprising statistic.
The New York City Department of Education barely mentions the CATCH program on their website (see link below). They only discuss the program in terms of it being new, but they do not give any more information.
Questions and Concerns:
- As sexuality educators, we need to concerned with how schools are communicating sexuality topics that are discussed in schools with parents and families. How was this “form of consent” sent home? What did it say? How was it supposed to be returned back to the school? Did it give correct and detailed information about each reproductive service, especially Plan B? Point of discussion: What is the best way to communicate and educate a new program like CATCH to parents and families?
- Being an advocate for comprehensive sexuality education, the CATCH program has potential to decrease adolescent unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and HIV. As students are using these services, what type of education are they receiving from the health department officials and school nurses? Are they taking time to have conversations with students using these services? Point of discussion: For students that are participating in the CATCH program services, should there be education in the process of utilizing these products and services? What could that education look like?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the CATCH program?