Teen pregnancy rates in California are at an all-time low but it is opposite for the youth in our state’s foster care system. Youth within the state’s foster care system pregnancy rates are at an all-time high and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus and the John Burton Foundation recently went to the California State Capitol to hold a policy briefing to help stop these trends.

On May 19th, the Women’s Caucus and John Burton Foundation brought rising teen pregnancies in our foster care system to the attention of many Sacramento experts and child welfare agencies and how these teen pregnancies lead to neglected children.

According to Children Uniting Nations, California has around 463,000 children in the foster care system, more than any other state in the country. With such a high number of children in the foster care system, it is important to provide proper care- after all, these kids are the future of this state. A study done by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago found that about 26 percent of 17 year old females in the system have been pregnant at least once.

According to a study done by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, California children born to adolescent mothers who were substantiated victims of abuse or neglect had a rate of reported maltreatment that was more than 2.5 times greater than the general population.

These teenage parents don’t have proper parental guidance or support. Often, their children end up being put back in the foster care system.

“The need for better reproductive health education and pregnancy prevention among foster youth in California is urgent,” according to the California Foster Youth Pregnancy Prevention Institute.

The California’s Legislative Women’s Caucus and John Burton Foundation have been taking action in six other local counties in response to the increase of teen pregnancies and the rising amount of neglected children and have now begun conversations in Sacramento about taking similar action.

“We have started to address the reproductive issue to children by the time they turn 12,” says Amy Lemley, Policy Director for the John Burton Foundation. “The local experts and governments hope that providing an overall knowledge of sex at an early age, education will help prevent pregnancies.”

The findings from the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study show 75 percent of 17 year old girls in foster care in California reported that they did not want to get pregnant. If those kids were well informed, it is possible that they would not have gotten pregnant.

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