Extended Foster Care for Transition-Age Youth: An Opportunity for Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting Support

Putnam-Hornstein, E. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Available online: 4 February 2016

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Image source: Tatiana Vdb

Purpose: This analysis examined California county birth rate variations among girls in foster care. The objective was to generate data to assess potential intervention points tied to federal legislation extending foster care beyond age 18 years.

Methods: Child protection records for all adolescent girls in foster care at age 17 years between 2003 and 2007 (N = 20,222) were linked to vital birth records through 2011. The cumulative percentage of girls who had given birth by age 21 years was calculated by county and race/ethnicity.

Results: One in three (35.2%) adolescent girls in foster care had given birth at least once before age 21 years. Although significant birth rate variations emerged, even at the low end of the county range, more than one in four girls had given birth by age 21 years.

Conclusions: Child welfare systems are now charged with coordinating transitional services for foster youth beyond age 18 years. Extended foster care provides new opportunities for pregnancy prevention work and targeted parenting support.

Read the abstract here

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