Defending Reproductive and Sexual Health Access for Youth in Foster Care
NCYL believes that young people in the child welfare system must have the ability to take ownership of their own bodies and reproductive decisions in order to have a fair start in life. To do so, foster youth must have access to comprehensive and complete sexual health education that addresses their unique needs and circumstances, the opportunity to access confidential reproductive and sexual health care on their own when they want it, the ability to make their own decisions about pregnancy and when to become parents, and the ability to make their own decisions about when and with whom to share reproductive and sexual health information.
You can find more legal information for California providers of adolescent health services at TeenHealthLaw.org
Youth in foster care experience barriers to reproductive health care, pregnancy prevention and sex education. This is problematic because youth in foster care are more likely to begin engaging in sexual activity at an earlier age, become pregnant, and experience teen parenting. A recent study of foster youth found that teens in foster care were more likely than their peers not in foster care to become pregnant, to describe their pregnancies as unwanted and to experience a repeat pregnancy. At age 19, 48% of the young women in foster care participating in the study had been pregnant at least once, compared with 20% of girls the same age not in foster care. Of those young women in foster care who had been pregnant, 46% became pregnant more than once. Being placed in foster care is traumatic in and of itself, but many of these young people have been abused, often sexually. They need services that are responsive to their experiences and trauma informed. For this reason, NCYL fights to establish and defend the rights to privacy and reproductive health access for all youth, including foster youth, in California and nationally.