The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has released guidelines for the national implementation of a program designed primarily to prevent teenage pregnancy, spokesperson Irene Dumlao said on Monday.

Dumlao, DSWD assistant secretary for the Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG), said that the ProtecTEEN project also seeks to provide psychosocial support and other interventions for adolescent mothers and their families.

“This project is the department’s response to Executive Order 141, series of 2021, adopting as a national priority the implementation of measures to address the root causes of the rising number of teenage pregnancies and mobilizing government agencies, and part of the Social Protection Program for Adolescent Mothers and their Children (SPPAMC),” she said in a news release.

Dumlao said ProtecTEEN adopts a social welfare model of intervention that aims to protect the rights of adolescent mothers and their families as well as to safeguard and enhance their psychosocial well-being.

“It also aims to improve the capacity of teenage mothers to perform their expected duties as parents of their children through the provision of direct social services and assistance, referral to other concerned agencies, and organizing peer advocates,” she added.

She said the project also utilizes a child-friendly, gender-responsive and rights-based approach to help adolescent mothers, their spouses or partners, and their families “to create a supportive atmosphere at home and an enabling environment for shared parenting.”

The DSWD’s initiative, she said, targets to serve adolescent mothers aged 10 to 19, including their partners, parents, children and other household-members.

After the successful pilot implementation of ProtecTEEN in Antipolo City and Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, the project will now cover all local government units (LGUs) and national government organizations (NGOs) that are willing to embrace the program.

Among the interventions that will be provided to help adolescent mothers are family healing sessions; family case management; employment, livelihood, and educational assistance; capability building activities; and referrals to other LGUs or NGOs.

“The project will also conduct advocacy initiatives to address discrimination and social stigma among adolescent mothers, as well as empower them to seek reproductive health services and other related interventions,” Dumlao said. (PNA)