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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Maternal and Child Health

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Adolescent & Young Adult Health Program

Adolescents (ages 10 – 19) and young adults (ages 20 – 24) together compose about 21% of the population of the United States. As consecutive life stages, adolescence and young adulthood mark periods of developmental transition from childhood to full-fledged adulthood; the experiences that take place and the behavioral patterns that form during these years can have lasting effects on adult health, well-being and productivity. In general, young people who have sound health and rich developmental experiences during these years are well on their way to a thriving adulthood. Too many young people, however, encounter harsh social adversities and may engage in behaviors that jeopardize their health and safety; the trajectory of their adult lives may be marred by the development of serious chronic disease, poverty, foregone opportunities, and a variety of legal and social problems that place a financial burden on them as well as society.     

The Adolescent and Young Adult Health Program aims to:

  • Elevate national, state, and community focus on, and commitment to, the health, safety, positive development, and well-being of adolescents, young adults and their families;
  • Increase adolescents’ and young adults’ access to quality health and safety education and health care, including comprehensive general health, oral health, mental health, and substance abuse prevention and treatment services;
  • Address the influence of social determinants on adolescent and young adult health, safety and well-being;
  • Improve health and safety outcomes for adolescents and young adults in such areas as mortality, unintentional injury, violence, oral and mental health, tobacco and substance use, reproductive health, nutrition and physical activity, and the prevention of adult chronic diseases; and
  • Eliminate disparities of health, safety and well-being among adolescents and young adults in order to achieve equity.

Through a set of national centers and partners, the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Program reaches a wide variety of health professionals, program administrators, and policy makers with the intent of providing information and resources to assist them in the development of sound programs and policies at community, state, and national levels that will help adolescents and young adult to thrive. It functions as part of the National Initiative to Improve Adolescent Health by the Year 2020 (NIIAH), a set of organizational and university partners that work on achieving the listed goals. NIIAH partners collaboratively seek to address the core adolescent and young adult objectives of Healthy People 2020 as well as the objectives of its Adolescent Health topic area, which has a strong focus on such social determinants of health as education and connections to adults. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=2

National Centers

The National Adolescent Health Information and Innovation Center (NAHIC) collects, synthesizes, coordinates and disseminates information relevant to the health, safety, development, and social and economic well-being of school-aged children in transition to adolescence, adolescents, and young adults.

The Public Policy Analysis and Education Center for Adolescent and Young Adult Health (Policy Center) analyzes the effects of public policies, regulations and practices at the community, state and federal levels on the health, safety, development, and social and economic well-being of school-aged children transitioning to adolescence, adolescents and young adults. The Policy Center disseminates its findings and products in formats useful to policy- and decision-makers and works to ensure the active transfer of knowledge about effective policies and programs to these leaders.

The Adolescent Health Resource Center for State Maternal and Child Health promotes State Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Program core capacity in adolescent and young adult development, health, safety and well-being, and assists states in developing strategies for improving measurable health, safety and developmental outcomes for these population groups.

The Partnership to Promote Adolescent Health in States supports a national membership association to assist its members and affiliates in developing improved approaches for delivering adolescent and young adult public health programs at the state level. The grantee works to promote the importance of investing in adolescent and young adult health among state officials and administrators who serve youth and their families.

A clinician with a mother and infant patient