Options for Youth (OFY) expands opportunities for underserved youth by developing programs that build upon the strengths and maximize the potential of each young person.
Our programs have a rich history of more than 20 years of service to Chicago's adolescent community, with a focus on two high-risk populations:
(1) first-time adolescent mothers below the age of 18 and
(2) adolescent males, ages 15-19, living in underserved neighborhoods on the South Side. Through intense training and ongoing, individual support, OFY helps these adolescents open doors for themselves with the long-term goal of independence and
Celebrating its 20th Year, the Subsequent Pregnancy Program (SPP) has served 4,000 first-time adolescent mothers across the state, all of whom had their baby before the age of 18: 97% of these young mothers delayed a second pregnancy, and 87% remained in school.
In 2011, there were NO second pregnancies among SPP participants and 90% of the young mothers who were eligible to graduate received their high school diplomas--in contrast to 38% nationally. SPP provides ongoing, individualized support through a personal relationship with a Home Visitor, coupled with intense training through bi-monthly group meetings. Rates of repeat pregnancy among SPP participants (3%) are lower than other community-based programs around the country; and rates of high school graduation among those 19 and above (70%) are twice the national average for pregnant and parenting teens.
Peer Advocates for Health (PAH) is a community-based program for adolescent African American males living in underserved neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago. PAH has provided intensive training and individual support to 270 young men, ages 15-19, from 35 different high schools. Significant increases in reproductive health knowledge, communication, and use of clinic services have been reported among PAH participants. After six months of training, Peer Advocates are employed to provide information and serve as role models in their own schools and communities. Peer Advocates have provided information on male health, healthy relationships, and lifestyle choices to 9,000 other adolescents through formal presentations or talking one-on-one with their peers.
In partnership with the CPS, Office of Early Childhood Education, Community Partnership Programs Prevention Initiative, Options for Youth serves 100 pregnant or parenting students and their young children, ages 0-3, in three high schools each year: Bogan, Curie, and Orr. Graduation rates for both young mothers and young fathers participating in Options equal or exceed graduation rates for each school. To ensure kindergarten readiness of each young child in the program, Options Home Visitors provide ongoing developmental screenings, literacy activities, and parenting education while linking each young family to needed services in their own community.