Improving TPP Program Reach through Recruitment and Retention Toolkit

Client Recruitment Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
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Welcome to the Toolkit

Taking a strategic approach to participant recruitment and retention planning can help both newly funded and existing Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) programs meet their program reach goals. Program reach is defined as the extent to which a program attracts its intended audience.1 When programs are attuned to factors that affect participant recruitment and retention—such as program accessibility, familiarity, and cost—they are better positioned to make program changes that will improve reach.2

This toolkit is designed to help Tier 1 TPP program staff and their implementation partners understand these factors and improve their program in ways that will ultimately support program implementation efforts. Specifically, this toolkit provides a series of steps and supportive resources that organizations can use to create or strengthen their recruitment and retention plan. Because implementation partners participate in—and, in some cases, lead—recruitment and retention efforts, it is important for programs to involve these partners in reviewing and implementing the steps and resources below.

illustration of a diverse group of teens walking into high school

Use this toolkit as a guide for developing a comprehensive and effective approach to recruitment and retention in order to achieve your program reach goals.

The toolkit will help:

  • Newly funded programs develop a recruitment and retention plan that builds on their implementation strategy
  • Existing programs use the principles of continuous quality improvement to strengthen and sustain recruitment and retention efforts

This toolkit proposes four steps to enhance TPP program recruitment and retention planning:

  1. Gather input from youth, parents/caregivers, and the community
  2. Use audience input and team reflection to strengthen your strategy  
  3. Develop engaging and relevant recruitment messages
  4. Provide meaningful support to retain participants

The steps laid out in this toolkit are intended to be followed in order. However, if your program has already taken some of these steps, you can focus on the toolkit sections and steps that best meet your needs and priorities. As you follow the toolkit steps, use the TPP Program Recruitment and Retention Action Planning Template to capture your learnings and help you develop an action plan. 

Regularly gathering input from youth, parents/caregivers, and community members is essential to understanding both the barriers and facilitators to participating in your program. (Including these stakeholders in your program’s quality improvement team is one way to ensure you solicit their input regularly.) Gathering input from these audiences eliminates speculation about why you are falling short of your reach goals or how you can improve. Rather, you can confidently identify recruitment and retention strategies that will meet their needs and reduce their barriers to participating. The resources below can help you and your implementation partners collect and prioritize audience input to begin recruitment and retention planning.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Conduct a root cause analysis with youth (including but not limited to a youth advisory council), parents/caregivers, and community members to understand barriers and facilitators to participation in your TPP program.

Root Cause Analysis Using "Five Whys" Worksheet

Cause and Effect (Fishbone) Diagram

Talk to youth, parents/caregivers, and community members using an empathetic approach, to better understand findings from the root cause analysis.

Focus Group Tip Sheet

Listen Up! Youth Listening Session Toolkit

Identify key themes from the input you gathered, and prioritize strategies you can implement to address barriers and facilitators to program participation.

Qualitative Analysis How-to Guide for TPP Programs

Prioritization Matrix

Document learnings and identify actions you can take to incorporate these learnings into your program.

TPP Program Recruitment and Retention Action Planning Template

By leveraging the input gathered from youth, parents/caregivers, and the community, you can identify user-centered solutions to your program’s recruitment and retention challenges. Internal reflection within your program team (including with your implementation partners) can also help you identify opportunities for improvement. Use the resources below to enhance your ability to take a user-centered, equity-minded, and systems-based approach to strengthening your recruitment and retention plan.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Assess opportunities to integrate equity into your recruitment and retention efforts.

Creating an Equity Framework for TPP Programs Worksheet

Explore the causal connections of your program and the system in which it exists by developing a map. By looking at the interdependencies of the system in this map, you can identify where to focus recruitment and retention efforts.

The What and Why of Systems Mapping for TPP Programs Webinar

Use human-centered design tools to develop personas and map the influences of the individuals you aim to reach.

Using Human-Centered Design to Refine Your TPP Program’s Recruitment and Retention Plan Webinar

Use a continuous quality improvement framework to track and evaluate the new strategies you implement and identify opportunities for improvement. For more comprehensive quality improvement guidance, take the QI eLearning course.

Plan-Do-Study-Act Worksheet

Document learnings and identify actions you can take to incorporate these learnings into your program.

TPP Program Recruitment and Retention Action Planning Template

What, where, and how you and your implementation partners communicate about the program can have a major impact on whether youth and parents/caregivers feel compelled to enroll and participate. By focusing on the messages you share and the channels you use, you can more effectively recruit participants for your program. To feel more confident in your messages, ask youth to help develop and/or review messages. The resources below can help you and your implementation partners develop and apply a strategic approach to communicating with potential participants and their parents/caregivers.

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Identify and articulate the unique value that your program provides to youth.

Communicating the Value of Your TPP Program Job Aid

Ensure you are using the right digital channels for your communication goals and the audiences you want to reach.

Digital Channels at a Glance: Best Practices for TPP Programs Job Aid

TPP Program Digital Channel Assessment

Craft messages about your program for social media.

Inspire Change Through Social Media: A Toolkit for OPA TPP Grantees

Develop a 30-second pitch to compel parents/caregivers to engage with your program.

Develop an Elevator Pitch to Engage Caregivers Job Aid

Document learnings and identify actions you can take to incorporate these learnings into your program.

TPP Program Recruitment and Retention Action Planning Template

Retaining youth and parents/caregivers in your program is equally as important as recruiting new participants, if not more so. Participant recruitment centers on marketing your program well, but retention hinges on delivering on the value you said you would provide as well as evolving to meet participants’ emerging needs. The resources below reflect strategies shown to be effective at enhancing retention and can help you and your implementation partners in your retention efforts.3 If you implement your program in schools, keep in mind that it may take more time and energy to get buy-in for and apply new strategies to retain participants. 

Action Steps
Supportive Resources

Employing and Retaining the Best Facilitation Staff for Adolescent Sexual Health Programs Guide

Implement facilitation strategies to keep participants engaged in both virtual and in-person programs.

Tips to Alleviate Youth Virtual Burnout Webinar Companion

Provide social-emotional support to meet youth needs and enhance engagement.

Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow (TAG)

Document learnings and identify actions you can take to incorporate these learnings into your program.

TPP Program Recruitment and Retention Action Planning Template

  1. Belza, B., Toobert, D.J., & Glasgow, R.E. RE-AIM for Program Planning: Overview and Applications. National Council on Aging & Center for Healthy Aging. 
  2. South-Paul, J.E., Ncube, C.N., Lin, C.J., Nowalk, M.P., Kagwima, R.N., Wheeler, E.A., Matambandadzo, A., & Adeyeye, A. (2014, July). Strategies for recruitment and retention of teen mothers in a program to prevent repeat pregnancy. Journal of Adolescent and Family Health, 6(2). 
  3. Harding, J.F., Zief, S., Farb, A., & Margolis, A. (2020, August 29). Supporting Expectant and Parenting Teens: New Evidence to Inform Future Programming and Research. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 24, 67-75.