Sexual Health of Foster Youth: Needs Assessment Findings Final Report

SHINE Report November 2019
November 2019

Over the past decade, academic research has documented disproportionately high rates of pregnancy among current and former foster youth. It is estimated that females who experience foster care are two to three times more likely to become teen mothers.[1] In Texas, female foster youth are almost five times more likely to become pregnant compared to other Texas teens.[2] However, foster care itself is not the cause of early pregnancy.[3] Rather, a host of risk factors related to trauma and family dysfunction are more likely to drive higher pregnancy rates.

Classroom-based sex education has been the most widely used means of providing sexual health information to youth. For foster youth, little is known about the impact of those programs.[4] Recent discourse suggests that foster youth would benefit from increased sexual health education for adults interfacing with foster youth, as well as through policy and system change.[5] Overall, there is still much more information needed to understand how to best address sexual health among foster youth.

This particular project sought to move beyond the discourse of defining the problems of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among foster youth. Our ultimate purpose is to develop practice resources to address this problem. In this study, we sought to understand how to best intervene with foster youth to promote positive sexual health, including specific information about tools to best engage youth and specific content needed to promote positive and trauma-informed sexual health.

In this study, we conducted a needs assessment guided by the following questions:

  1. How are foster youth currently learning about sexual health?
  2. What can improve sexual health education for foster youth?

To answer these questions, the research team interviewed five former foster youth, eight providers working with foster youth, and two caregivers to foster youth regarding their experiences and opinions on sexual health promotion for foster youth in Texas.

Read the full SHINE 2019 Report Here

Recommended Citation:
Faulkner, M., Borcyk, A., Sevillano, L., Doerge, K., Nulu, S., & Wasim, A. (2019). Sexual Health of Foster Youth: Needs Assessment Findings. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin.

[1] Noll, J. G., & Shenk, C. E. (2013). Teen birth rates in sexually abused and neglected females. Pediatrics, 131,

[2] Texans Care for Children (2018). Fostering Healthy Texas Lives. Retrieved from: https://static1.squarespace.

[3] Font, S.A., Cancian, M. & Berger, L.M. (2019). Prevalence and risk factors for early motherhood among low income, maltreated and foster youth. Demography, 56(1), 261-284.

[4] Futris, T.G., O’Neal, C.W., Dockter, T., Mancini, J.A. & Brown, G.L. (2019). Variations in outcomes between foster
and non-foster youth following sex and relationship education. Child and Youth Care Forum, 48(3), 377-403.

[5] Colarossi, L., Dean, R., Stevens, A., Ackeifi, J. & Noonan, M. (2019). Sexual and reproductive health capacity
building for foster care organizations: A systems model. Children and Youth Services Review, 105.