The Story of ECHO:
ECHO is a one-on-one early intervention educational/mentoring program that seeks to recognize young people at risk for early childbearing, juvenile delinquency, drug and alcohol involvement, academic failure and other risky behaviors with a goal of empowering these at-risk youth to make healthy choices. Begun in 1999 as a proactive, front line defense against the cycle of teen pregnancy, ECHO has grown to expand its focus in positive ways by decreasing internal poverty, increasing self-esteem, and improving body image. ECHO is unique in that it seeks to reach out to children and their parents before the children are at risk.  Research points to clear antecedents to early pregnancy and risky behavior; the children ECHO targets share those antecedents.  Specifically, ECHO serves children who are:

  • Younger siblings of childbearing teens (generational teen pregnancy) (East, Reyes,  & Horn, 2007; Raneri & Constance, 2007)
  • Young people who are survivors of sexual and physical abuse (Boyer & Fine, 1992).
  • Children in placement or foster care (Kirby, Lepore, & Ryan, 2006).
  • Children living with the effects of poverty (internal and external) (Young, Turner, Denny, Young, 2004)
  • Children living with domestic violence, drug/alcohol abuse or incarcerated parents (Coyle, 2005; Goode & Smith, 2005; East & Khoo, 2005; Jekielek, Moore, Hair, & Scarupa, 2002).
  • Young people with a history of problems at school (Karcher, 2005).


The initial focus of ECHO was teen pregnancy prevention. A total of 511 young people have received ECHO services since its inception in 1999; only three pregnancies have resulted in that decade. All three conceptions occurred when the young women were 17 – 18 years old.


View 2009-2010 ECHO Stats



How Does ECHO Work?

ECHO’s unique component is the combination of evidence-based instruction with intensive professional mentoring commitment with a long-term goal of empowering families to stand on their own. ECHO staff members connect with families weekly; the average duration of an ECHO commitment is 4 – 5 years! The focus on youth involves parents as well; ECHO mentors become significant adults in a young person’s life through interactive education, counseling and hands on learning. Dr. Doug Kirby’s BDI Logic Models (Kirby, 2002) are used to create all lesson plans and for strategic planning within families. Social learning theory is a foundation of ECHO’s education (Bandura, 1977). While 30 behavioral objectives are part of ECHO”s action plan for youth, shoring up parents and families is a vital goal. The social workers, educators and nurses involved in Teen Outreach all interact with ECHO families to create a learning environment where growth and development is nurtured and encouraged. Youth begin in ECHO as young as 2nd grade and may remain with the program throughout high school.


Click here for a list of Cited References.

Click here for ECHO Behavorial Outcomes




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