Updated - HIP Adolescent-Responsive Contraceptive Services

Ados May



Updated - HIP Adolescent-Responsive Contraceptive Services


There is evidence that adolescent-friendly services, when well-designed and well-implemented, can help increase access to and use of contraception. However, traditional models of specialized service delivery for adolescents have proven difficult to sustain and scale.  Establishing adolescent-responsive contraceptive services (ARCS) is emerging as a more scalable and sustainable way to meet adolescents’ needs for contraceptive information and services.  The term adolescent-responsive contraceptive services (ARCS) signals an evolution from traditional stand-alone models of adolescent-friendly services towards a systems approach to making existing contraceptive services adolescent-responsive by incorporating elements with demonstrated effectiveness for increasing adolescent contraceptive use. A systems approach implies that policies, procedures, and programs across the entire health system are adapted to respond to the diverse needs and preferences of adolescents.


Adolescent-Responsive Contraceptive Services (ARCS) has been identified as a HIPs Enhancement—a practice that is not typically a standalone intervention, but rather implemented in conjunction with HIPs to further intensify the impact of the HIPs. Examples of  how HIPs can be enhanced through the inclusion of adolescent-responsive elements include offering contraceptive information and methods to adolescent mothers during routine child immunizations (Family planning and immunization integration), vouchers for free services to offset financial barriers for youth and adolescents and targeted demand generation (Social franchising), and community health workers trained to counsel and refer married adolescents for contraception during household visits (Community health workers).


Download the HIP Adolescent-Responsive Contraceptive Services brief and visit www.fphighimpactpractices.org to learn more about High Impact Practices in Family Planning.



Key Points: Adolescent-Responsive Contraceptive Services


  • Evidence shows that current approaches for adolescent contraceptive services are either ineffective at increasing contraceptive use (e.g., youth centers) demonstrate mixed effects (peer education) or are challenging to sustain and bring to scale (separate spaces for young people within health facilities) and contribute to poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes.
  • Establishing adolescent-responsive contraceptive services (ARCS) is emerging as a more scalable and sustainable way to meet adolescents’ needs for contraceptive information and services.  
  • Adolescent-responsive contraceptive services means applying a systems approach to make existing contraceptive services responsive to the needs and preferences of adolescents, i.e., incorporating evidence-based elements throughout all components of the health system, rather than implementing isolated interventions.
  • A systems-approach to adolescent-responsive contraceptive services is necessary to address the multiple barriers to adolescent’s access and use of contraceptive services: laws and policies; gender and social norms; misconceptions and lack of knowledge; financial barriers; lack of privacy and confidentiality; and provider bias.
  • Lessons from Chile, Ethiopia, and Uruguay show that when an adolescent-responsive leans is intentionally and systematically applied across the health system, the resulting system is stronger and is better able to sustain quality services at scale.
  • Implementation tips include: ensure an enabling policy and legal environment for contraceptive provision to adolescents; employ a variety of sectors and channels to reach different adolescent segments for service delivery; and improve providers’ competency in providing adolescent-responsive contraceptive services.



Ados V. May, MPA | IBP Network | Senior Technical Advisor

1299 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 550 | Washington, DC 20004 |

www.ibpnetwork.org o: +1 202 808 3846 | m: +1 202 999 8816 |

email: ados.may@... | Skype: adosmay


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