Hennepin County teen birth rate drops 65% in 10 years

The number of kids having kids is dropping in Hennepin County.

New data, released Tuesday, shows both the teenage birth rate and the number of children born to teens in Hennepin County have seen a sharp decline.

The teen birth rate is dropping across the country, but Hennepin County has made it a strong focus among teens. Educational programs and community outreach to adolescents county-wide has made a difference, officials say.

Since 2009, the teen birth rate has dropped from almost 28 per 1,000 teens to just about nine last year.

“The data is saying, over the past 10 years, teen birth rates in Hennepin County have decreased by about 65 percent, which is a large number,” said Emily Scribner-O’Pray, Hennepin County’s Planning Analyst.

Overall, 982 teens had children in 2009. Last year, that number was just 339.

Hennepin County has been so successful at driving down its teen birth rate that it now leads both the State of Minnesota and the nation.

“And a big deal in terms of actual people’s lives when you think about the number compounded over the years,” said Scribner-O’Pray.

Across the country, the teen birth rate has been dropping for years due to contraception that has become more effective and available. Also, more teens are waiting longer to have sex.

In Hennepin County, they’ve used federal funding to target teens in high risk neighborhoods with services they feel comfortable using. In addition, the county has used education programs with information-based messaging.

“The message we focus on is really around making sure that you have all the information you need to make an informed and a good decision. And adolescents aren’t really all that different from adults in that when they have all the information that they need they just make better decisions just like adults do,” Scxribner-O’Pray said. “And so they are making better choices.” 

Hennepin County has had the federal funding for these programs for the past nine years. Those grants run out in June.

The county is looking for all available funding down to keep this program going because it believes the data shows it’s working.