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, the grantees provide services and supports to 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. 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 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 2016, 34 grants were awarded for a 3-year period with annual funding of $3,357,000.
Currently, 33 grantee agencies provide services from 41 sites in Minnesota and are funded through December of 2020. In addition, one grantee (through a network of over 200 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 pregnancy verification to prenatal care. Sixty 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 86% of the grantees. Car seat distribution with safety education and information are provided by nearly half of PA funding sites. Crib safety education and distribution is provided by 66% of grantees. All grantees make referrals to community partners for clients when a need is discovered like WIC, Medical Assistance or Family Home Visiting.
Data: Services, Activities and Demographics
Services and Activities
From July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019, 22,321 clients received 259,114 separate services. A portion of these services incorporated specific Maternal and Child Health Advisory Task Force strategies aimed at healthy maternal and infant outcomes including:
- 6,498 women attended car seat safety classes and 1,918 women who did not have one were provided a car seat
- 14,085 women received infant sleep safety education and 8,733 women who did not have a crib were provided a safe bed for their infants
- 8,957 women received shaken baby education
- 8,627 women received child abuse prevention information
Positive Alternatives program activities cover a wide range of services from adoption education to transportation assistance. Grant activities are identified and organized under approximately thirty different program/activity categories. The ten most common services grantees provide include:
- Parenting education - 86%
- Pregnancy education - 80%
- Crib safety education and distribution - 66%
- Case Management - 60%
- Nutrition education and support - 57%
- Material support such as formula, diapers and maternity clothing - 51%
- Life skills education - 49%
- Car seat safety education and distribution - 43%
- Transportation assistance such as bus token or gas cards - 40%
- Financial assistance for housing, utilities, or childcare expenses - 37%
Grantees submit demographic reports describing self-reported information from the clients served by client type, pregnancy status, race, ethnicity, marital status, and age. Clients served from July 2017 through June 2019, are described in the report below.
Highlights of Grantee Evaluation Reports
Evaluation of program activities is a required component of the grant. Evaluation studies support program quality improvement for funded services. Grantees evaluated their program activity outcomes by tracking indicators and annually reporting their findings.
- One grantee evaluated their Buckle Up Baby car seat safety program assessing the impact of their educational component and individual follow up for client compliancy. Results of the evaluation supported both the grantee's efforts in car seat safety education and for the importance of continuing a one-month follow-up education appointment to further reinforce the car seat safety education originally provided for the client.
- Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), also referred to as Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), is a component of most grantees educational programming. One grantee evaluated their SBS program using a pre and post survey. The session included using a model life-sized doll specifically created to visually exhibit and reinforce the negative effects of SBS along with informative videos and supportive or positive parenting materials. Through the evaluation the grantee identified specific needs of clients including language barriers and low literacy and education levels. In addition, the need for additional time for engaging conversations/questions with clients was confirmed through the evaluation.
- Another grantee's evaluation project considered their life coaching program. Tools used for program evaluation included The Perceived Stress Scale and The Canadian Occupational Performance Measure. Clients agreed to an 8-week coaching commitment and were measured on outcomes based on pre and post-coaching surveys. Surveys included responses to perceived self-efficacy, perceived stress and overall performance and satisfaction. Results demonstrated statistically significant changes for participating clients on each of the four outcome measures from pre-coaching to post-coaching. The sizes of these effects were statistically in the moderate to large range.