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Federal government will offer grants to sex education programs defunded by NH Executive Council

The exterior of the US Department of Health and Human Services
Sarah Stierch
Creative Commons
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.

The federal government is offering a funding lifeline to New Hampshire organizations looking to continue a sex education program defunded by the Executive Council last fall. But that money likely won’t be available until the end of August.

New Hampshire organizations will be able to apply directly for federal grants to support sex education curriculum, rather than relying on approval from the Executive Council.

The new grant opportunity follows months of debate and negotiations over a longstanding initiative that aims to reduce teen pregnancy in Manchester and Claremont, where those rates are the highest. Republicans on the Executive Council blocked funding for the program last year, citing concerns about parental oversight and curriculum content for younger grades. (Officials affiliated with the programs have repeatedly said parental permission is required.)

Both Amoskeag Health in Manchester and TLC Family Resource Center in Claremont, the health centers that lost the funding last fall, have significantly scaled back operations since then and are relying on temporary support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Betsy Burtis, the chief officer for Integrated Health Services at Amoskeag Health says they have reached about half the number of participants as in previous years, due to the lack of long-term funding. They also paused hiring for the program.

She says the program is aimed at helping high schoolers lead healthy lives, and she is hopeful the new funding will allow them to reach more students.

“There is parental consent for each individual that signs up for the program, and it is meant to be a program that helps young adults make better decisions about how they treat themselves, how they treat others, and how they can protect themselves from being in a toxic relationship,” she says.

New Hampshire’s Democratic Congressional delegation helped to facilitate the new funding arrangement with the federal government, following a model they used several times before — most recently in 2021, after the Executive Council rejected federal funding for Planned Parenthood of New England.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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