Foster youth, aging out, and early parenting

Elizabeth Sue Curnow, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Early parenting has been associated with poor outcomes for both teen parents as well as their children. The goal of this research was to determine if a link exists between current health and pregnancy prevention education and delayed parenting among foster youth between the ages of 14-21 years of age. Analysis included a literature review, a review of data collected as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) and a qualitative review with foster youth themselves. A thorough review of the literature identified approximately 19 articles presenting research or data related to foster youth and teen pregnancy. Many articles identified negative outcomes for foster youth, particularly increased rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse, contact with the criminal justice system and homelessness. Several articles highlighted the challenges that foster youth face when they have their own children and the fact that those foster youth who are parents frequently have additional contact with child welfare agencies. Quantitative analysis was conducted on the NYTD data available for secondary analysis through the Cornell University National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN, 2014). At the time of this writing, the database had collected administrative and survey data on approximately 12 thousand foster youth in the target age range of 14–21. Analysis did not identify a statistical relationship between those who received health and pregnancy prevention education and those who subsequently delayed becoming parents or for those who already had at least one child and subsequently delayed an additional pregnancy. Qualitative analysis was conducted to help describe the experience of foster youth who were also parenting children. Interviews were conducted with 6 local, young mothers who were also in foster care to describe their perspectives on the efficacy of pregnancy prevention education. The research in whole suggests there is a need for much more research into this vulnerable population. There is a need for administrators and researchers to consider the unique perspective of foster youth and to tailor any intervention to those perspectives.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Curnow, Elizabeth Sue, "Foster youth, aging out, and early parenting" (2016). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10126229.