Our Story

1st Edition (1995)

The original Power Through Choices curriculum was created in the mid-1990s by the Family Welfare Research Group in the School of Social Work at the University of California, Berkeley. The research team included Marla G. Becker, M.P.H.; Richard P. Barth, M.S.W., Ph.D.; Helen H. Cagampang, M.P.P., Ph.D.; and Ruth C. White, M.S.W., M.P.H.

The curriculum was based upon focus group work with youth in out-of-home care throughout California, interviews with staff working with foster youth, site visits, pilot testing, and a process evaluation of participant satisfaction. When the Power Through Choices curriculum was developed in the mid-1990s, it was the only adolescent pregnancy prevention program designed with and for youth in systems of care. Though participant feedback was positive, no rigorous evaluation had been conducted to document its effectiveness.

2nd Edition (2008-2010)

From 2008-2010, the curriculum was revised by a team from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center as part of the Promoting Science-Based Approaches to Teen Pregnancy Prevention initiative coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and included two additional sessions from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy teen pregnancy prevention curriculum, My Life, My Choices: Session 3 – Reproductive Health Basics and Session 5 – Understanding STIs and HIV and How to Reduce Your Risk. Other revisions expanded the content, ensured medical accuracy, and more closely aligned the curriculum with the needs of the child welfare system and the youth they serve.

3rd Edition (2010-2017)

In 2010, the Power Through Choices Demonstration and Evaluation Project was selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children and Families (ACF) as an Innovative Strategies grant in the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). The three-state research project was designed to test the efficacy of the recently updated and expanded curriculum. An interim evaluation report was released in December 2014, with promising results. The final impact evaluation report documenting outcome findings was released in the fall of 2016, showing strong evidence of effectiveness.

An independent evaluation was conducted by the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and Power Through Choices was one of seven projects selected as part of the large federal evaluation conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. Additional support for the Power Through Choices Demonstration and Evaluation project was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Evidence-Based Practice Group.

The success of the Power Through Choices program model was built upon the initial program design and core content created in 1995 by the original developers of the curriculum: Richard P. Barth, MSW, Ph.D.; Marla Becker, M.P.H.; Helen H. Cagampang, M.P.P., Ph.D.; and Ruth C. White, M.S.W., M.P.H. Their commitment to actively engaging young people themselves in designing and shaping the program’s content remained a commitment through the revision process led by Janene Fluhr, Shante Fenner, and Sharon Rodine. The commitment to ensuring the voices of youth inform the program’s implementation to ensure its relevance continues today.

4th Edition (2018)

In 2018, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy transferred ownership of the Power Through Choices curriculum to Healthy Teen Network. Healthy Teen Network updated the curriculum, resulting in the 4th edition—making language more gender-inclusive, clarifying and streamlining instructions, adding activities and resources, ensuring that the content is medically accurate, and changing the layout of the manual.

Symbol of Empowerment

owlThe empowerment of young people who participate in the Power Through Choices program is embodied by the logo; a powerful bird that symbolizes a spirit in nature that is associated in many cultures with strength, wisdom, knowledge, truth, courage, and freedom. The open wings represent rising above to a place where things can be seen with a wider, clearer vision, then moving forward with the strength and ability to protect and be protected.

The bird’s face is shaped like a heart, symbolizing the center of our emotions that guide our choices, decisions, actions, and relationships.

The color represents nature and a sense of growing, learning, and becoming.

Facilitators share this symbol with all the young people who participate in Power Through Choices, with the hope this symbol reminds them that, regardless of their life experiences up to this point, they have the potential to rise above and to soar… using the power that comes from making wise choices.