GENESIS is Boulder, Colorado's response to the increasingly prevalent problem of teenage pregnancy. As a network of programs, GENESIS addresses the needs of pregnant and parenting teens in order to help them be nurturing parents, attain the education and skills needed for economic viability, and thereby promote the life chances of their children. While young parents are the participants in GENESIS' programs, its identified client is actually the fetus or the child of the teen parent. GENESIS considers its methods to be preventative in that it aims to improve the lives of children of teen parents, often before the children are actually born.
The underlying goal of the GENESIS project is to interrupt the generational reproduction of poverty by providing a wide range of comprehensive and intensive services to teen families. The program aims to positively impact upon the birth and development outcomes of children born to teen parents, provide safe support services to teen parents and their fetus or child, and to prevent subsequent pregnancies.
GENESIS programs are designed around case managers who work with Boulder teens to assess risky behaviors and intergenerational risk factors. Together social workers and adolescents develop an individualized service plan to address specific needs. The case manager supervises a team of resource parents (men and women who were once teen parents,) who facilitate continuous access to prenatal and perinatal care, teach parent-child bonding and nurturing skills, assess psychological, social and physical needs, provide educational opportunities, and intervene in parent drug usage. These case managers also connect teenage parents with family planning workshops and provide client transportation.
Of Boulder's 187 identified pregnant or parenting teens in 1994, GENESIS staff successfully contacted 94 percent to inform them of the services available. One hundred and sixty-seven young parents chose to receive GENESIS services, 93 percent of whom were connected with programs within two weeks of being contacted. All clients in GENESIS receive individualized or group Nurturing Program training, which take place either during home visits or in support groups. These classes help young parents learn how to bond and connect with their babies. Sixty percent of GENESIS participants graduate from high school, get a General Education Degree (GED), or complete vocational training. One strong testament to the success of GENESIS is that the rate of repeated pregnancies among young parents in the program went from 12.5 percent in 1992 to only 3.8 percent in 1994.
The GENESIS board members are from seven state partnering agencies: Boulder County Department of Health, Social Services, Community Services, the St. Vrain Valley and Boulder Valley school district, the cities of Boulder and Longmont and the private, nonprofit Mental Health Center of Boulder County, Inc. This interagency cooperation has ensured that young parents in Boulder receive the health, education, and social services they need and that the children of teen parents are given the best possible opportunities for healthy development and successful childhood.