An advocacy group says teens in Texas foster care are five times more likely to become pregnant than other girls statewide.
Citing 2017 Texas Department of Family and Protective Services data, a 38-page report released Monday by Texans Care for Children says 332 foster care girls were pregnant last year, while 218 foster care youths were already parents.
Statistics from 2015 further show that, in a typical year, about one in 20 foster care girls ages 13 to 17 become pregnant — a rate of 5.7 percent, compared to 1.2 percent for girls statewide in that age group.
The author of the report, Kate Murphy from Texans Care for Children, lays the blame on trauma leading to risky behavior and missing reproductive health education by jumping from school to school and family to family.
Murphy was also surprised by how many girls wanted to start their own family. “About a third of pregnancies for youth in foster care are not unplanned. They’re actually wanted. Which is a little bit of a different dynamic than the general population,” Murphy said.
But that can lead to more abuse and neglect. According to state data, 48 children in 2017 were born into the system and stayed in the system.
“That’s not ok. We could do more to make sure we’re really protecting those families, protecting those kids and preserving that family,” Murphy said.
The report emphasizes training adults in charge of the system on how to talk about relationships, sex, and pregnancy, could go a long way to end the cycle.
This report is the first of its kind, according to Murphy, in part because the state didn’t track pregnancies in CPS care until the 2015 legislative session.
In a statement, the Department of Family and Protective Services said, “We are continually evaluating and working to improve the programs provided to youth in our care.”
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