Choose When to celebrate Steamboat community’s efforts to curb unplanned pregnancies
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Efforts to curb teen and unplanned pregnancies in Colorado have been hugely successful, but Dr. Larry Wolk thinks more can still be done.
Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will be in Steamboat Springs on Thursday to discuss the state’s efforts as well as a local family planning initiative called Choose When, which helped about 50 Northwest Colorado women get birth control in the past year.
“I think it’s really about the success of the program and how we continue the success and grow it,” Wolk said.
Wolk will speak during an event from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Colorado Mountain College’s Allbright Auditorium in Steamboat Springs. The event coincides with the first anniversary of the Choose When program.
Choose When was founded by a group of local women, including Kathleen Wasserman, and they raised more than $200,000 from more than 150 private donors.
“What the community did here is amazing,” Wasserman said. “I don’t know that this would happen anywhere else. One of the things we want to do is applaud the community Thursday night.”
Both the Colorado Family Planning Initiative and Choose When have focused on providing long-acting reversible contraceptives like IUDs and hormonal implants.
According to the Colorado Family Planning Initiative report from January 2017, the state’s program drove a 50-percent reduction in teens births and abortion.
Wolk, a pediatrician who has led the state agency since 2013, said that in Jefferson County, teen birth rates went from 395 in 2009 to 169 in 2016.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative also helped avoid nearly $70 million in public assistance costs.
Choose When works with Northwest Colorado Health and Planned Parenthood to offer the free and reduced-cost birth control.
Wasserman said the 50 women who took advantage of the Choose When program during the first year had a household income of less than $35,000, and a majority already had at least one child.
“The women that we’ve helped have been helped,” said Wasserman, who added the birth control methods normally cost between $500 and $1,500. “They are incredibly effective and incredibly expensive.”
The Choose When program has grown and is now being offered in Moffat and Grand counties.
“The short answer is it’s working,” Wasserman said. “We’re thrilled with how this has gone.”
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