On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion calling on county agencies to implement the state’s plan for preventing unintended pregnancies amongst foster youth.
The state plan, “California’s Plan for the Prevention of Unintended Pregnancies for Youth and Non-Minor Dependents,” aims to address the fact that by age 21 over 1 in 3 girls in foster care will have given birth, according to a report by the Children’s Data Network.
Co-authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, the motion calls on the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Probation Department and county health agencies to explore best practices and develop strategies for reducing early and unplanned pregnancies. The motion also calls for the creation of a communications plan for DCFS and the Probation Department to ensure employees know the plan’s requirements and their role in ensuring access to reproductive health services.
In a statement emailed to The Chronicle, Solis said, “The goal is to provide our teens with the proper information they need so they can make informed decisions on contraception, sexuality, and pregnancy prevention. By adopting the California Plan, L.A. County will empower our girls to delay pregnancy, obtain an education and establish themselves before they have a family. More specifically, we hope to reduce the number of pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, and in doing so, help end the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect.”
Representatives from all three departments, the child welfare advocacy community and at least one former foster youth will participate in developing the strategy.
“What’s important here is to make sure we’re catering to the needs of our young teens. The best way to do that is to include the voice of the youth who have the lived experience of abuse, neglect, trauma and early and unplanned pregnancy,” Solis said.
Additionally, the motion directs the county’s legislative advocates in Sacramento to support the passage of Senate Bill 245, which would require youth over 10 years old in foster care to receive sexual health education.
The three county agencies are charged with reporting back their progress to the Board of Supervisors in 60 days.
Carl Finer is a freelance writer focusing on education, community development, running, and child welfare.