Innovation in Sexuality and Relationship Education in Child Welfare

Youth in foster care need regular and candid conversations about sexuality and relationships, our Texas Foster Youth Health Initiative project team found in a new study.

Our team conducted interviews, community listening sessions, and reflection exercises with several groups of stakeholders: young adults with lived experience, foster parents, and child welfare professionals. The findings are detailed in an article published in the December 2022 issue of Prevention Science.

Based on an analysis of stakeholder perspectives, our team identified the need for trauma-informed and inclusive interventions. Our findings confirmed the need to normalize conversations about sexuality and relationships in child welfare. We also found a need to continue shifting away from risk-based and stigmatizing approaches to sexual education for youth in foster care.

We identified key strategies for designing coordinated interventions targeting youth, foster caregivers, and child welfare professionals. These strategies, detailed below, include:

(1) Reflect on values about sexuality and relationships.

(2) Validate youths’ need for connection.

(3) Focus on strengthening youth-adult relationships and ongoing conversations.

(4) Build healthy relationship skills including communication about consent, condom use, and contraception.

(5) Identify teachable moments and model problem solving.

(6) Use interactive approaches for sharing health information and empower youth to

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Read the full article in Prevention Science.