Reproductive Empowerment and Decision Making for Young Adults (REaDY) Initiative

From 2008-2010, a coalition of Massachusetts health service providers, advocates, and researchers collaborated on a statewide project to reduce unplanned pregnancy among young adults in the wake of health care reform in the Commonwealth. The Reproductive Empowerment and Decision Making for Young Adults (REaDY) Initiative focused on better understanding the individual, community, provider, and structural factors that influence the contraceptive behaviors of young adults aged 18 to 26 and on developing strategies to ensure that this age group has the resources they need to lead healthy sexual and reproductive lives. This includes making decisions about whether and when to become parents. The first year of the initiative involved formative research, the results of which informed actions undertaken in the second year to improve the health care system and better prepare health service providers to care for young adults. Research findings and lessons learned also informed national health care reform efforts.

REaDY was led by an Executive Committee of multiple organizations and agencies. Ibis led the formative research component, and a statewide taskforce was chaired by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Family Planning Program and coordinated by the Pro-Choice Massachusetts Foundation. Other Executive Committee members includes the Massachusetts Family Planning Association, youth development specialist TiElla Grimes, and the Boston Public Health Commission.

The formative research included a systematic review of the reproductive health coverage of young adult-targeted health plans and focus group discussions with young adults in different areas of Massachusetts. Findings from the research informed the development of My Little Black Book for Sexual Health, a youth-friendly, interactive online guide about health insurance and pregnancy prevention. This resource is available in Spanish and English, and  helps young adults navigate their health insurance options and answers questions about finding health plans that work for them and meet their contraceptive needs.