About 50% of females who experience foster care in the United States are pregnant by age 19 compared to only 33% of girls across the nation who have a pregnancy by that age. Despite disproportionately high pregnancy rates, there are limited interventions and community strategies to help reduce teen pregnancy among foster youth.

With a $5.4 million, three-year grant, the Texas Institute for Child & Family Wellbeing within the Steve Hicks School of Social Work will lead the Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative to build relationships across child welfare and adolescent health systems to promote optimal health for child welfare-involved youth.

In partnership with the Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Texas Alliance of Child and Family Services, the Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative will establish, fund, coordinate, and support a multidisciplinary network of community partners to develop and test cutting edge sexual health interventions for youth and their caregivers. These community partners include Healthy Futures of Texas  and the North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens.

“We are really excited because this project is finally bridging relationships and resources between child welfare agencies and health education providers,” said Monica Faulkner, the institute’s director and principal investigator for the Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative. “The foster care system is often blamed for high rates of teen pregnancy, but the reality is that youth have experienced sexual violence and witnessed domestic partner abuse prior to entering foster care. They lack foundations for healthy relationships, but healthy relationships are critical for healing trauma.  The foster care system can provide that foundation.”

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