Caregiver-endorsed strategies to improving sexual health outcomes among foster youth

Katie Albertson, Julia M. Crouch, Wadiya Udell, Allison Schimmel-Bristow, Jessica Serrano, Kym R. Ahrens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Foster youth are at an increased risk of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) compared with peers. We conducted 11 semistructured focus groups with 86 foster and kinship caregivers in three child welfare jurisdictions to understand their strategies for monitoring and communicating with youth in foster care around sexual health topics, with the overall goal of developing a training for caregivers to reduce STI and unintended pregnancies among youth in foster care. We used thematic analysis to analyse the data. Three main themes emerged: (1) strategies to communicate with youth about sexual health (trust-building, open/direct communication, tailoring information to each individual youth, creative conversation-starters, and self-education), (2) strategies for monitoring youth (e.g., tailoring monitoring to youth development/characteristics, clearly communicating rules, co-development of rules, spending time with youth/friends/friends' parents, using technology, using a social support system), and (3) other strategies to promote positive youth development (advocating for youth, engaging youth in goal-setting). Trainings that provide caregivers with (1) information on sexual health and normal adolescent development and (2) strategies and skills to help caregivers engage in open, evidence-informed communication, and monitor youth in a tailored, developmentally-informed manner are likely to improve reproductive health and other outcomes among youth in foster care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)557-567
Number of pages11
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • foster caregiver
  • fostering
  • outcomes
  • positive youth development
  • sexual health
  • youth in foster care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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