Leveraging School Partnerships to Innovate Family Planning Outreach and Education
“We were able to make this [transition to virtual outreach and education] happen because of our constant contact with the schools.”—Crystal Pangelinan, Family Planning Program Coordinator, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Northern Mariana Islands
When the Northern Mariana Islands first closed schools at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Crystal Pangelinan and the family planning program team at Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC), a Title X grantee, knew they had to find a way to sustain their outreach and education to adolescents and young adults. Fortunately, they had already built a strong partnership with local schools.
Drawing upon those existing relationships, Crystal reached out to the schools to discuss strategies for online engagement. The schools granted her team access to their virtual educational technology platform and time during scheduled classes to host interactive sessions with students. Through this arrangement, the CHCC team engaged students of all ages, from middle school through university. In some cases, school faculty also joined the virtual sessions and afterward helped connect students with the clinic.
With a virtual approach, the CHCC team ultimately reached more students and garnered more student participation than they would have with in-person sessions. The virtual platform also enabled the team to share links to high-quality online resources that students could access and explore on their own time. Following the sessions, the number of adolescents seeking family planning services at CHCC increased.
This fall, students are returning to the classroom in the Northern Mariana Islands. Crystal and her team will also return in person—but they plan to continue virtual interactive education and outreach sessions, too.
Title X projects looking to implement successful virtual outreach strategies can use the following job aids to strengthen their efforts: Engaging Your Community: A Toolkit for Partnership, Collaboration, and Action, Providing Family Planning Services to Adolescents During Uncertain Times: Tips and Strategies, and Using Virtual and Remote Outreach to Meet CPEP Requirements.