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King County Health Officials Protest Early End Of Sex Ed Grant

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Jeff Chiu
/
AP
Justin Balido, peer health coordinator and senior health educator with Health Connected, speaks to a ninth-grade class at a California high school in 2015.

The early cancelation of federal grants for sexual health education has raised protests from King County officials.

Public Health Seattle & King County was supposed to receive $5 million over five years. But earlier this summer, the Trump administration said the program would end after three years.

The public health department is in year three of a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The $5 million pays for sexual health education curriculum, teacher training, and efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. It also funds research into how well the curriculum is working.

“One key principle for our work in public health is that we act based on science and evidence,” said Patty Hayes, director of public health in King County. “We need the evidence that a new system or rule or intervention is necessary – and that it’s effective.”

Hayes says they’re in the process of collecting that data by studying how the curriculum developed in King County affects 4,000 students in the South and Midwest.

But now the money will run out in June 2018 – two years earlier than expected. The change came in a notice from the federal health department back in early July. Public health officials said there was no explanation.

King County and other urban public health agencies have filed a formal protest with the Trump administration. They’re organized by the Big Cities Health Coalition, which calls the early termination of the grant “highly disruptive to work already underway.”

Ed Ronco came to KNKX in October 2013 as producer and reporter for KNKX’s Morning Edition. Ed started in public radio in 2009 at KCAW in Sitka, Alaska, where he covered everything from city government, to education, crime, science, the arts and more. Prior to public radio, Ed worked in newspapers, including four years at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, where he covered business, then politics and government.