Science Says: Foster Care Youth
This 7-page research brief presents data on pregnancy and birth rates, sexual behavior, and the use of reproductive health services among youth in foster care. In particular, it focuses on how foster care youth compare to other youth on these measures, and how older adolescents who remain in foster care compare with those who "age out" of the foster care system. Two primary sources of information are used: (1) a study of 732 youth in three states who were in foster care at age 17 and who had entered the system prior to turning 16, conducted by the Chapin Hall Center for Children (CHCC) between 2002 and 2004, and (2) the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). The data show that by age 19, nearly half of young women in foster care have been pregnant, compared to a fifth of their peers not in foster care. Also, by age 19, 46 percent of teen girls in foster care who have been pregnant have had a subsequent pregnancy, compared to 29 percent of other teen girls. By age 19, 90 percent of young women in foster care have had sexual intercourse, compared to 78 percent of other young women. Compared to 19 year olds still in foster care, foster youth who aged out of the system at age 19 are more likely to have become pregnant at least once and to have received prenatal care. The implications for service providers are discussed.