Prevention of Adolescent Risks Initiative (PARI)

Prevention of Adolescent Risks Initiative (PARI)

All young people experience important developmental milestones on their path to becoming healthy adults, and while this time of change is full of promise, it can be a time of increased vulnerability or risk. Because they are in developmental transition, adolescents and young adults are particularly sensitive to environmental influences. Environmental factors, including family, peer group, school, neighborhood, policies, and societal cues, can either put youth at risk or support their health and well-being. For system-involved youth, navigating this time of change can be fraught with even more challenges or barriers. Without strong family and social networks, this vulnerable population may face increased risk of engaging in high-risk behaviors, such as unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners, as well as mental health and substance use and abuse issues. Promoting healthy practices during adolescence and taking steps to better protect young people, especially those from vulnerable populations; from health risks are critical for the prevention of health problems in adulthood.

With a focus on the social determinants of health and of risk and protective factors, PARI serves to:

  1. Increase the visibility and knowledge base for adolescent health issues through better data collection and information sharing at the national, state, and local levels; and,
  2. Increase the capacity, through advocacy and training, of child welfare and juvenile services professionals, health care providers, researchers, policymakers, and others to appropriately and effectively prevent, identify and respond to adolescent health needs.

Projects under this initiative include:


Child Sex Trafficking Victims Initiative (CSTVI)
UMB’s Child Sex Trafficking Victims Initiative (CSTVI) is a five year partnership between UMB School of Social Work and the Maryland Department of Human Resources to address the issue of sex trafficking among youth involved with child welfare.  CSTVI was established with funding from the Children’s Bureau and works to:

  1. Improve victim identification through creation and statewide implementation of a screening tool to identify trafficked and at-risk youths; 
  2. Enhance victim response by equipping child welfare professionals with necessary knowledge & skills, achieved by developing new training curriculum and statewide training plan to reach all new and existing child welfare staff; and
  3. Ensure victims receive comprehensive, trauma-informed care through capacity-building of service providers and targeting existing service and resource gaps.

          To Learn more, check out our Child Trafficking in Maryland Fact sheet

The Maryland Human Trafficking Initiative for Children and Youth
The Maryland Human Trafficking Initiative for Children and Youth is another three year project to improve statewide coordination and multi-disciplinary collaboration in responding to human trafficking involving children and youth, including both labor and sex trafficking.  This initiative was established with funding from the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime and is led by the Ruth Young Center for Families and Children (RYC) at UM SSW, in partnership with the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, Governor’s Office on Crime Control and Prevention, Maryland Departments of Human Resources and Juvenile Services, and U.S. Attorney’s Office.  The primary activities of the Maryland Human Trafficking Initiative for Children and Youth are:

  1. Creation multidisciplinary teams to better investigate and prosecute cases of child trafficking while providing more comprehensive and coordinator care for victims.
  2. Development of a unified strategy to provide training for relevant professionals throughout the state, including law enforcement, service providers, medical professionals, child welfare and juveniCSle justice workers, prosecutors and judges.
  3. Provide comprehensive and trauma-informed services to child and youth victims of trafficking through a network of partner nonprofit organization with specialized knowledge and services to meet the unique needs of this vulnerable population.

The Baltimore Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative for Out-of-Home Youth
The Baltimore Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative for Out-of-Home Youth is an initiative to promote positive sexual and reproductive health outcomes among out-of-home (OOH) youth utilizing a systematic holistic approach to sexuality education and contraceptive/sexual reproductive health services interventions. This initiative was established with funding from the Personal Responsibility and Education Program (PREP) funding designed to align with the expectations outlined by Congress in the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is led by the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) and was initially awarded with a five year subcontract, which has recently been extended for another five years. The Baltimore Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative for Out-of-Home Youth is one of ten programs under Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).

The primary activities include collaborating with stakeholders to develop a systematic, holistic approach that provides reproductive health information, education and outreach; peer and significant adult education; and organizational support to achieve a change in teen pregnancy prevention knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among Baltimore’s youth in out-of-home placements ages 14-21. There are two components to the initiative, the youth component and adult component:

  • Youth Component: An evidence-based intervention specifically designed for youth in out-of-home settings in DSS and/or DJS, using the Power through Choices/Making Proud Choices curriculum; and program evaluation to compare changes in teen pregnancy knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors
  •  Adult Component: An adolescent reproductive health intervention for youth providers from the DSS workforce, DJS workforce, as well as foster parents from both agencies; and program evaluation to compare changes in providers’ knowledge and behaviors.

The expected outcomes and goals are consistent for both interventions.

  1. Reduce risk behaviors in youth ages 14-21 to acquire knowledge and skills to avoid births and sexually transmitted infections
  2. Provide structured professional development and training to youth providers on adolescent reproductive health, contraceptives, and healthy sexuality;
  3. Increase access to care including promoting Title X Clinics for reproductive healthcare; as well as improve awareness of policies and protocols related to adolescent sexual reproductive health care.


Nadine Finigan-Carr, PhD 
Principal Investigator
410-706-7157 (office)                

Amelia Rubenstein, LCSW-C
Clinical Research Specialist
410-706-4401 (office)

Rochon K. Steward, MSW
Lead Clinical Research Specialist