Adolescents in out-of-home settings such as foster care, juvenile detention, and treatment frequently miss sexual health education in schools. Additionally, they often do not have reliable caregivers to provide them accurate sexual health information. Compounding the issue, many of these youth have experienced trauma which is not addressed in any sexual health curriculum. Due to these gaps, youth in out-of-home settings have higher rates of adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections compared to youth in general.

Youth living in out-of-home settings are in need of unique programming to address their trauma histories and educate them about healthy sexuality. Fragmented relationships exist between child welfare entities who are uncomfortable with sexual health issues and sexual health educators who are uncomfortable with trauma issues.

This project aims to bring both child welfare entities and sexual health educators together in a work group in order to create a plan that will aid in improving these youth sexual health outcomes.

Key collaborating partners, including local judges, DFPS, child placement agencies, shelters and sexual health educators will be invited to participate in the work group. Once the partners are established, the team will brainstorm and draft a strategic community plan of action to make improvements in the sexual health outcomes of youth living in out-of-home settings. Individual tasks outlined in the plan will be implemented by smaller work groups made up of the collaborating partners. Sustainability will be evaluated and a final report will be given to St. David’s Foundation.

This project will promote positive sexual health outcomes (reduced teen pregnancy, reduced sexually transmitted infections and positive attitudes about sexual health despite trauma) for youth in out-of-home settings through direct practices that become standardized across settings and community collaboration that continues to support programming and advocacy for this population.