About 1,600 Detroit teens become parents every year. This program wants to make sure parents have the facts
The recently launched iDecide offers “judgment-free” care for teens
The statistics lay it bare: Detroit teens are two and a half times more likely than other teens in Michigan to become a teen parent. Each year, about 1,600 teens in Detroit become parents.
Often accompanying parenthood: Sexually transmitted infections, a lack of pre-natal care, and higher risks of infant deaths after birth. These statistics are the reason the City of Detroit’s health department launched iDecide Detroit, a network of trained professionals offering reproductive health care geared toward teens. The health care providers offer STI testing and treatment, birth control and contraception options, and preventative health courses.
“When you want to tackle challenges, you go to the community,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, health department director and health officer, says. Khaldun says the department worked with students from the Teen Hype Center, a local nonprofit geared toward the betterment and wellness of teens, as ambassadors to help with the vision of the program.
"This is a proud moment for Detroit and myself personally because now the subject of sexual health will no longer be taboo between a parent and a child," said 17-year-old Duwan Anderson, member of Teen HYPE.
17-year-old Lauryn Moore said the focus groups really helped the teens feel heard on the issue. "I believe it's important for youth to have a voice on issues that affect them," she said.
With 23 partnering clinics within the network, the main iDecide hub is located at the Butzel Family Center in West Village. Nurse Practitioner Shantae Johnson takes her job at the clinic to heart.
After becoming a mother at 17, Johnson was determined to live out her dreams of becoming a nurse. She went to Wayne County Community College to obtain an associate’s degree and began working at Sinai Grace Hospital. After taking a bachelor’s bridge program offered by the hospital, Johnson received advice from colleagues leading her to advance practice nursing.
“I was always drawn to teaching at the hospital,” Johnson said. “I felt like being a nurse practitioner gave me both; I could still nurse the community but teach them as well.”
The Teen Health Center provides youth-friendly, judgment-free reproductive services for teens with same or next day availability.
The center is open until 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and has Saturday availabilities. While focused on teens, the center treats males and females of all ages. The iDecide Detroit health care networks provide condoms, birth control, sexually transmitted infection/HIV testing and pregnancy testing.
Patients are able to receive confidential care and assistance with transportation. The iDecide network also provides free bus tickets and Lyft rides to people 18 and older or patients under 18 with a parent/guardian.
Not only does the iDecide staff provide physical wellness services but a certified social worker is on site to provide resources and counseling to teens.
“Some people come in just for information,” Johnson said. “Our social worker performs an assessment on every patient that comes in.” Johnson said teens are able to speak to the social worker on site about resources for anything from substance abuse and homelessness to counseling on healthy relationships.
Both Johnson and Dr. Khaldun are seeing great results since the launch of the campaign. “We’re averaging about five to six patients a day,” Johnson said. Khaldun said they’re also seeing a lot of parents coming in with their children to receive the information as well.
For more information on iDecide Detroit, call 833-9-DECIDE or visit www.idecidedetroit.com.