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Adolescence is a period of time in our lives of remarkable changes: physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviorally. This is an important time to help young people set the stage for making healthy choices, and to access health care that will promote health across their lifespan. The Health Department is engaged with a number of partners, both in Vermont and nationally, to support the positive development of adolescents and young adults.
The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Bright Futures – Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents recommends that adolescents receive a comprehensive well-care visit each year in their medical home. The Health Department's Division of Maternal and Child Health has made increasing the percentage of adolescents who have annual well-care visits a strategic plan priority. We are engaged with a number of national, state and local partners to address this public health priority and the important topics that may be addressed during these visits.
Here are some of our Vermont-based strategies and efforts to improve health for adolescents:
- Contributions toward national and Vermont strategies to increase adolescent and young adult access to preventive health care
- School-related efforts to increase adolescent well-care visit rates
- Opportunities for youth engagement and empowerment
- Efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, support pregnant and parenting youth, promote healthy relationships and life skills, and promote adolescent sexual health
- Coordination with Vermont’s network of youth-serving organizations and clinical services work to prevent teen suicide, and also serve individuals, friends and families in the event of a suicide or suicide attempt.
Youth Health Improvement Initiative – Vermont Child Health Improvement Program
We also partner with the Youth Health Improvement Initiative (YHII) at the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) located at the University of Vermont. YHII has worked for over 10 years to support pediatric and family practices to improve preventive services delivery to youth ages 8 to 18, including those with Medicaid insurance. Practices receive training on quality improvement, health care topics specific to adolescence, and the use of risk behavior, and strength screening. Currently, the YHII is focused on increasing annual well-care visit rates for adolescents. Their work is grounded in promoting the guidelines from Bright Futures, as well as a strengths-based approach, which is crucial to developing protective strengths and assets that help youth stay healthy.