The Children’s Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program has enjoyed over ten years of success and counting. While we never equate our program as a quick-fix to the issue of adolescent pregnancy, we do like to measure our success. In addition to the following article, the most up-to-date articles can be viewed on the Children’s Aid Society web site.
Carrera Model Program creator speaks at GC&SU
November 21, 2022 — By Joseph Tkacik - The Union-Recorder
Dr. Michael Carerra has a dream.
When he started his work with The Children's Aid Society 44 years ago in New York City, helping teens and adolescents avoid "sexual tragedy," he got into their frames of mind and their world by engaging in conversations with them on their level.
After 25 years of searching for an outlet for that dream, he discovered it was there with him the whole time. It just wasn't being delivered effectively. Now that he has a plan, he is bringing it to Milledgeville with hopes of curbing teenage pregnancy and building self confidence and promoting positive outcomes for a group of middle school children in Baldwin County next summer.
Approximately 60 people gathered in Hoke Dining Room at the Maxwell Student Union at Georgia College & State University to listen to Carerra tell the story of how he developed a program that has been proven to change lives since its first application in 1984.
Carerra's visit to Milledgeville is the first step in launching the Carerra Model Program, which will be staffed and supported through a $1.2 million five-year grant GC&SU received in September from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Along with a separate parent participation element, the model program has seven components: educational support, career awareness and job club, lifetime sports, creative expression, comprehensive medical and dental services, and family and life and sex education.
The idea for the program started after a retreat in the fall of 2001 when Knight Foundation's Milledgeville Community Advisory Committee met with local residents to talk about youth development. The committee, working with Susan Patterson, Knight's Program officer for Milledgeville, mentioned the Carerra Program.
Carerra said during the first 25 years he was talking to children and teens about scenarios and tactics to keep them away from "sexual tragedy," he felt some discomfort that he wasn't getting where he wanted to go.
"They liked me," said Carerra. "But in terms of their behavior after they heard what I had to say, I was very disappointed. I felt frustrated and like a failure. Publicly these kinds of tactics were said to be working. I felt like (the children) were close enough for me to touch, but they were out of my reach."
He discovered the real problem with his approach was that there were what he called "fundamental" errors in his approach. One major one was that the adolescents were being subjected to two different environments. One was in a classroom-type environment where they were isolated from real world problems. He said all the information he was instilling into them was being diluted as they got back into their home environment.
"Some of these kids were going home to a place with no electricity," said Carerra. "Some were going home to an abusive parent. The other thing I was missing was that I was only helping the students to gain the capacity to do avoid problems. I was missing helping these kids feel the desire to have good things happening in their lives."
He said his program links capacity with desire - a combination he said has worked in many different cities since he launched his first program in 1984.
The Milledgeville program will begin the six-day-a-week, year-round program next summer. Participating youth will continue to be in the same group through their high school years.
The Knight grant, in the amount of $215,000 the first year and $260,000 for each of the next four years, will initially provide programming for the students through the 10th grade.
The Knight Foundation promotes excellence in journalism worldwide and invests in the vitality of 26 U.S. communities. Since 1980, the Knight Foundation has invested more than $7.3 million in the greater Milledgeville community.
For more information about the Carerra Model Program, call Linda Watson-Kaufman at (478) 445-3647 or e-mail her at [email protected].
Joseph Tkacik covers the city of Milledgeville and Baldwin County for The Union-Recorder. He can be reached at (478) 453-1457 or by e-mail at [email protected]