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HHS Announces Recipients of Competitive Personal Responsibility Education Program, Title V Abstinence-Only Program, and Competitive Abstinence Education Grants

by Sarah Grigsby-Reiser

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 grantees for several programs in its Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program. One of the grant programs, the Competitive Personal Responsibility Education Program (C-PREP), provides funding to more comprehensive sexuality education programs. Two other programs also announced their grantees, the Competitive Abstinence Education (CAE) Grant program and the Title V Abstinence-Only program. Both of those programs must adhere to the strict eight-point definition of “abstinence education” in Title V, Section 510 of the Social Security Act. As such, programs must exclusively teach the “social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity” and that “abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage [is] the expected standard for all school age children.”[1]

The C-PREP grants were only available to public and private entities in states and territories that never received Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) funding. PREP is a mandatory funding stream that was created in 2010 as a part of health care reform legislation. The program provides grants to states to deliver complete, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education to young people in order to help them reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The program is designed to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and STDs, including HIV/AIDS as well as at least three of the following adulthood preparation subjects: healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, educational and career success, and healthy life skills. The health care reform legislation contained a provision such that if a state did not apply for PREP in FY 2010 and FY 2011, organizations in those states became eligible to apply for their state’s share of funding for the remaining three years of the program. Thirty-seven public and private entities in the five states—Florida, Indiana, North Dakota, Texas, and Virginia—as well as three U.S. territories that did not apply for PREP funding in FY 2010 and 2011 received C-PREP grants ranging from $200,000 to $900,000.[2]

The CAE program is $5 million of dedicated discretionary funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that was included in the final FY 2012 federal appropriations legislation. While $5 million represents a miniscule portion of the federal budget, history shows that such programs, once established, can expand rapidly. Only $20 million was allocated for the original Community-Based Abstinence Education program (CBAE) when it was instituted in Fiscal Year 2001, but its funding surpassed $100 million only four years later. FYSB describes the CAE grantees as supporting “abstinence education, and where appropriate, mentoring, counseling and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity.”[3] The nine programs that received the 24-month CAE grants “focus on those groups most likely to bear children out of wedlock, including youth, ages 10 to 19, who are homeless, in foster care, lie in rural areas or geographic areas with high teen birth rates, or come from racial or ethnic minority groups.”[4]

The Title V abstinence-only program is a mandatory funding stream that was included in health care reform legislation, after originally being allowed to expire on June 30, 2009. This extension equals a $250 million allocation ($50 million annually) for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to be available to states from FY 2010, the first year of the resurrected program, to FY 2014. While the program is more flexible than it was in previous years, funded programs must continue to teach abstinence to the exclusion of other topics and may in no way contradict the A–H federal definition for “abstinence education.” They are prohibited from providing complete information about contraception or condoms for the prevention of unintended pregnancy, HIV, and other STDs. Despite the increased flexibility, only 36 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Federated States of Micronesia applied for and received Title V abstinence-only grants, totaling $38,917,481.[5]

While the C-PREP program uses taxpayer dollars to fund more comprehensive sex education programs that “educate young people on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS,” the two abstinence-only grant programs are using federal dollars to fund programs that have been proven ineffective. Congress continues to fund these ideologically driven programs despite clear evidence that federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are not effective in stopping or even adolescent sexual behavior.


[1] Social Security Act , 42 U.S.C. §§ 710(b)(2)(A)–(B) (2010), accessed 17 January 2012, <http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-1996-title42/pdf/USCODE-1996-title42-chap6-subchapV_2-sec710.pdf>.

[2] Family and Youth Services Bureau, “2012 Competitive Personal Responsibility Education Program Grant Awards,” Department of Health and Human Services (27 September 2012), accessed 24 October 2012, <http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/resource/2012-cprep-awards>.

[3] Family and Youth Services Bureau, “2012 Competitive Abstinence Education Grant Program Awards,” Department of Health and Human Services (28 September 2012), accessed 24 October 2012, <http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/resource/2012-caegp-awards>.

[4] Ibid. 

[5] Family and Youth Services Bureau, “2012 Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program Awards,” Department of Health and Human Services (1 October 2012), accessed 24 October 2012, <http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/fysb/resource/2012-title-v-awards>.

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