A Bright Future for Youth in Foster Care
- Tweet This Many communities across the United States are addressing adolescent pregnancy prevention among youth in foster care.
- Tweet This Collaboration and partnership are key to serving and supporting vulnerable youth.
- Tweet This FYSB grantees lead the way in addressing adolescent pregnancy prevention among youth in foster care.
As highlighted in a previous blog post, youth in foster care are a particularly vulnerable group at elevated risk for teen pregnancy. There is great work underway to better serve this population with evidence-based interventions and exciting momentum across the country to address the disparate rates of teen pregnancy.
10 Ways You Can Address Teen Pregnancy among Foster Care Youth
In October 2015, adolescent pregnancy prevention (APP) and foster care experts, including many FYSB grantees and federal staff from FYSB and the Children’s Bureau, met in Washington, DC, for the National Conversation on Unplanned Pregnancy among Youth in Child Welfare, hosted by the
National Campaign. Following that meeting, a call to action was developed to provide decision makers and other leaders with 10 ways to address teen pregnancy among foster care. The call to action encourages collaboration across sectors to make progress on reducing unplanned pregnancy among youth in foster care. This includes the following:
- Authentically engage youth in solutions.
- Integrate teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention into existing child welfare programs for youth and adults.
- Integrate data collection and analysis on pregnant and parenting youth in foster care into current child welfare case management systems.
- Use data to inform local and state policy and practice, and build a case for supporting pregnancy prevention services.
- Convene local and state experts on how best to put unplanned pregnancy prevention policies into practice.
- Develop new, evidence-based, trauma-informed programs focused on youth in foster care; incorporate therapeutic models like motivational interviewing; and help youth explore healthy relationships.
- Ensure that each youth in foster care has a trusted adult in their life who is able to talk to them about reproductive and sexual health.
- Work across systems to integrate and provide teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention services.
- Address policy gaps at the federal, state, and local level.
- Create new programs and services for young adults and parenting youth in foster care that focus on reproductive health, especially in those states that extend foster care to age 21.
What’s Happening across the States
FYSB grantees continue to be excellent examples of how this work can be done. Your fellow colleagues are focusing on youth in foster care in the following ways:
- Health Care Education and Training is a competitive Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grantee serving Marion County, Indiana. It provides evidence-based programming through collaborative partnerships with the goal of preventing adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections to youth aged 12–19 who are in foster care; are in the juvenile detention system; or identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) (LGBTQ). Over 3 years, the organization has reached more than 1,500 youth with three different evidence-based programs. Collaboration and partnership with local, community-based organizations has been a key aspect of its work.
- The Alabama Department of Public Health is a state PREP grantee that contracts with organizations in West Central and North Alabama areas to provide evidence-based programming to youth in therapeutic foster care group homes and in-patient facilities. It uses Making Proud Choices! and Making Proud Choices: An Adaptation for Youth in Out-of-Home Care along with lessons from Love Notes 2.1 to include adulthood preparation subjects. The department’s programming reaches approximately 150–200 youth. Valerie Lockett, the Alabama State PREP coordinator, says, “[This] Programming is essential in reducing unplanned or unintended pregnancies in youth and decreasing the acquisition of STDs and HIV.”
- The Community Partnership, a subgrantee of the Missouri State PREP project, has provided evidence-based APP programming to more than 150 youth in foster care in four counties in Central Missouri. Youth have responded well to the program, and one youth even wanted to take the program again!
- The Baltimore City Health Department, a subgrantee of the Maryland State PREP project, works with youth in foster care to increase access to sexuality education and confidential contraceptive services. The project includes the implementation and evaluation of the evidence-informed and evidence-based pregnancy prevention curricula and the development of an educational pregnancy prevention curriculum for child welfare professionals and foster care providers. So far, the project has reached 213 youth and 250 case workers and providers.
- Since 2011, the Connecticut State PREP project has served over 800 youth in foster care and close to 2,800 youth in technical, magnet, and public high schools throughout the state. In the past year alone, the program served nearly 70 youth in foster care, specifically youth in congregate care programs (i.e., group homes) who are at highest risk.
- A total of 31 states are currently addressing APP among youth in foster care with both federal and private funding. In some states, the work is being done on a local level, but many states are using regional approaches to ensure the greatest reach with their programming.
These strategies are a few examples of the important work that is underway across the country. Let’s continue to work together to address the needs of our highest risk populations, ensuring that progress is realized for all youth.