Positive Alternatives Overview
Positive Alternatives grants (Minnesota State Statute 145.4235) provide funds to non-profit organizations promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes and assisting pregnant and parenting women in developing and maintaining family stability and self-sufficiency. For more information on Positive Alternatives Grant Program Requirements refer to Minnesota State Statute 145.4235.
Responding to identified community needs, Positive Alternatives (PA) grantees provide pregnancy, parenting and family support activities and services. Working in collaboration with other area resources, they support, encourage and assist women at what could otherwise be a challenging time. PA grants support healthy pregnancy and parenting outcomes, through the provision of services such as prenatal care, nutritional education, and parenting classes. In some cases, the services offer a "positive alternative" to a woman who may feel abortion is her only option when facing a challenging pregnancy. In 2014, 35 grants were awarded for a 2-year period with an annual funding of $2,357,000.
The number of induced abortions has decreased each year since 2007 (Minnesota induced abortions 2007 - 13,843), the first full year of the Positive Alternatives grant program. In 2014 there were 10,123 abortions performed. "Economic reasons" was the second highest response (after "does not want children at this time") given by women who gave one or more reasons for their abortion. The PA program funds activities and support networks that work to resolve the financial pressures that an unplanned pregnancy can cause such as lack of medical insurance, food resources or housing. The services offered through PA grants assists women by focusing on long-term solutions to self-sufficiency including helping with achieving education and employment goals.
Positive Alternatives grantees are required to provide information on, referral to, and assistance with securing necessary services that support, encourage and assist women in carrying their pregnancies to term and caring for their babies after birth, or in making an adoption plan. Necessary services include, but are not limited to:
- Medical care
- Nutrition services
- Housing assistance
- Adoption services
- Education and employment assistance, including services that support the continuation and completion of high school
- Childcare assistance
- Parenting education and support services.
In the 2014-16 grant cycle, there were 35 grantee agencies providing services from 41 sites in Minnesota. In addition, one grantee (through a network of over 300 organizations) serves the entire state providing safe sleep information and cribs to families who do not have a safe place for their infants to sleep, and rent assistance to women with pregnancy-related financial needs.
Positive Alternatives activities are directed toward outcomes that lead to achieving healthy pregnancies. Activities include educating participants on pregnancy and parenting topics that benefit themselves and their children, and strengthen families. Medical services range from providing prenatal care, the pregnancy verification needed to obtain Medical Assistance, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. Eighty percent of grantees provide a nutritional service like distributing prenatal vitamins or providing formula, food or nutrition classes. Parenting education, recognized as facilitating maternal bonding and infant mental health that may result in a reduction in risky childhood behavior, is provided by 80% of the grantees. Car seat and cribs along with safety education and information are provided by 85% of PA funding sites.
In 2015 the legislature added an additional $1,000, 000 of annual funding for the Positive Alternatives Grant Program.
Services and Activities
In the grant cycle (2012-14), 10,083 women received 72,474 separate services. In 2012-14 women were served at an average cost of $467 per client with an average cost of $65 per individualized service provided. Among these were:
- 1,327 women attended car seat safety classes and 851 women who did not have one were provided a car seat
- 2,335 women received infant sleep safety education and 1,877 women who did not have a crib were provided a safe bed for their infants
- 2,244 women received shaken baby education
- 2,421 women received child abuse prevention information.
Evaluation Summary 2012-2014
During the 2012-14 grant cycle, PA grantees were required to evaluate at least one of their program activity outcomes by tracking indicators and reporting their findings. Evaluation studies conducted by each grantee encouraged study and reflection on one or more programs funded through the PA grant. Grantees were asked to submit their findings at the conclusion of the study.
Highlights of Grantee Evaluation Reports
A grantee exceeded its goal of 70% of clients testing positive for pregnancy would follow up by attending a prenatal care appointment within eight weeks of the pregnancy test. This Center reached a goal of 93%. The grantee used multiple attempts to motivate clients to have a follow-up visit, greatly increasing the likelihood their clients would receive quality prenatal care.
Another grantee evaluated their Buckle Up Baby Car Seat Safety Program. The grantee discovered only 20% - 30% of the general population use car seats correctly, yet demonstrated on an average 80% of their Buckle Up Baby participants followed safe car seat practices after participating in their car seat safety program. In addition, 100% of those who returned within two months of the educational sessions followed safe car seat practices. They also found that those who received car seat education that included hands-on training were four times more likely to use their car seats correctly.
Safe Sleep techniques and education is a topic several grantees used in their evaluation projects. Through their safe sleep evaluation one grantee discovered that 85% of their clients had an increased knowledge of safe sleep techniques as a result of the information they received in their one-to-one mentoring session using the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet, “What does a safe sleep environment look like?”
Evaluation Summary 2010-2012
During the 2010-12 grant period, the following data were used to evaluate the Positive Alternatives grant program:
- Data collected from the "Necessary Services" questionnaires in which at the time of intake pregnant and parenting women were assessed
- Data collected
- 2010-12 Positive Alternatives Evaluation Report (PDF)