Graduate assistant Jessica McNamara, program coordinator Kate Goudy-Haht, and graduate assistant Jacy Downey are staff members for Iowa State University's "Parenting: It's a Life" program.  (L-R)

Graduate assistant Jessica McNamara, program coordinator Kate Goudy-Haht, and graduate assistant Jacy Downey are staff members for Iowa State University’s “Parenting: It’s a Life” program. (L-R)

A sex education program that many Iowa high schools and middle schools utilize is receiving national recognition.

The program called “Parenting: It’s a Life” is a collaboration between Iowa State University’s human development and family studies department, the Iowa Department of Human Services Child Support Recovery Unit, and the Iowa Attorney General’s office.

Program coordinator Kate Goudy-Haht says traditional sex education programs cover reproductive biology, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases. “Our angle is to talk more about the financial realities,” Goudy-Haht says.

“We don’t promote any type of method that we think students should use…more of, if they choose to be sexually active, there’s that chance they will have pregnancy and then what would happen afterwards. So, we really give them the financial realities of being a teen parent.”

The National Child Support Enforcement Association, based in Virginia, is presenting “Parenting: It’s a Life” with 2013 excellence award for program awareness, which recognizes effective media relations and public outreach campaigns. Goudy-Haht says the awards committee was impressed with ISU’s partnership with state agencies on the program and an effort to reach more teachers and students with a website and a Facebook page.

“We’ve also created a monthly e-newsletter that goes to over 1,000 contacts, most of them being family consumer science teachers, counselors, and health teachers in the middle schools and high schools across Iowa,” Goudy-Haht says. The program also distributes an informational poster to every high school and middle school in Iowa.

Goudy-Haht says many students are surprised by the “financial realities” of teen pregnancy. “About 40-percent of teen parents and their children live in poverty. The cost of raising a child up to the age of 18 is over $100,000. Those are some of the financial realities that I don’t think they’re aware of,” Goudy-Haht says.

The ISU program will be presented with its award at the National Child Support Enforcement Association’s annual conference on August 5th in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo by Wyeth Lynch