Macon County Leads State in STD Rates, Teen Pregnancies

By Jeff Bossert
January 11, 2013

Macon County now ranks first in Illinois’ 102 counties in terms of teen pregnancies and those with sexually transmitted disease.

For example, statistics from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show the current teen pregnancy rate is 55 per 1,000, almost three times the national level.

But the county’s health department says it’s fortunate to be getting grant funds to address it at the right time. 

Karen Shiflett is its director of its Women, Infants, and Children Program and Family Case Management. She said Macon County qualified for a state grant of about $270,000 to set up and expand programs in Decatur schools, including the ‘making proud choices’ prevention coalition. 

Shiflett said the Department of Human Services funds will expand teen health programs both during and after school.

“These funds are utilized to support anything that can create parent involvement, notification to the parent, including the parents and the students as well in the coalition and the activities of the coalition, and also the knowledge of what the curriculum is providing the student,” she said.

The Department of Human Services grant was awarded in July through a subcontractor, and covers the county through the fiscal year. 

Shiflett said the timing was perfect for the grant, less than a year after the state cut funds to a teen parent service program.

"And that was a program that did offer service provision to teens who had to deal with an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and it worked with them to get them through graduation from high school," she said. "That 55 teens a year that we were able to get high school education for."

On the issue of STD's, chlamydia rates in Macon County were nearly six times higher locally than the national rate of 84 cases per 100,000.

Shiflett said while the reliability of state payments still remains a concern, the Department of Human Services grant covers youth programs through June 30.

Story source: WILL