Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care
In Foster Care…
- In a study of foster youth in 3 Midwestern states, 1/3 reported having been pregnant, and 2/3 of those reported that the pregnancy was unwanted (Courtney, Terao, and Bost, 2004).
- Among older foster girls in Illinois, 40% of African American and 12% of Caucasian girls were pregnant or parenting (Leathers and Testa, 2002).
- Twenty-eight per cent of older girls (17 and up) in foster care in Illinois had custody of one or more children (Leathers and Testa, 2002).
- Among young women emancipated in 1997 in California, those with 5 or more placements were more than twice as likely to have become pregnant before emancipation than those with just one placement. (Nearly 1/3 of those emancipated had more than 5 placements.) Among that group, Latinas were twice as likely to have become pregnant as Caucasian or African American young women (Needell, et al., 2002).
- Two to four years after leaving foster care, over half the young women in a national study had given birth to a child and were on welfare (Wald and Martinez, 2003).
- In California, 67% of females emancipated from the child welfare system had at least one birth within five years of leaving care (Needell, et al., 2002).
Issues and Challenges Related to Pregnancy and Parenting
- 40% of foster youth with one child and 58% of foster youth in Illinois with two or more children reported having special needs due to pregnancy or parenting which interfered with independent living (Leathers and Testa, 2002).
- Social workers in Illinois reported that, of older foster girls with custody of a child, 30% were having “somewhat of a problem” and another 8% were having “very much of a problem” with parenting (Leathers and Testa, 2002).
- Pregnancy and parenting doubled the risk of dropping out of school among older foster teens, based on a study of Illinois youth. Dropping out of high school put youth at high risk of unemployment (Leathers and Testa, 2002).
- Existing services for teen mothers - both in and out of dependency – lack continuity, universality, and entitlement. Many programs fail to include mothers as full participants and beneficiaries (Wald and Martinez, 2003).
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