Teens Linked to Care (TLC) is a public health initiative designed to support youth in high-risk communities with access to substance use and HIV prevention education, health care services and supportive environments. This project is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and three pilot sites in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio. As the three-year pilot program is coming to an end, we look at how the field can build on the success of the program and develop a future framework that provides similar support to youth nationwide.
TLC successfully integrates prevention strategies to address substance use among teens and young adults in these rural communities. One of the goals of the pilot phase was to develop a framework for schools to address high-risk substance use, sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy through youth-friendly health education. This included a community advisory board consisting of local coordinators who care about the health of teens in their communities. There is also a youth advisory board, giving teens an opportunity to connect with their peers in a safe space.
“That’s what TLC is. You are empowering youth to make good decisions and to be powerful adults.” — Deb Spears, TLC coordinator
The three communities that participated in the pilot phase will now move from implementation to outcomes, as TLC spreads to other communities looking to develop a similar framework. Kathleen Ethier, Ph.D., director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, explains, “We hope to replicate this approach in other schools and communities so that we can continue the work to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s youth.“
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention