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Flatland KC: Sex, Pregnancy and Foster Care

By Tammy Worth, photo by Meg Vatterott

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen pregnancy costs taxpayers more than $9 billion a year in health care and other costs. Ironically enough, those other costs include foster care.

The irony lies with the fact that foster kids themselves are often the ones responsible for teen pregnancies.

According to a 2013 study in the Children and Youth Services Review journal, young adults were 300 percent more likely to have children between the ages of 17 and 19 if they had been in the foster system. The study also found that, by age 19, more than half the women had been pregnant, and about a quarter of the the men had fathered a child.

Terri Hickam has definitely seen that play out in her work as manager of the Transition to Adulthood program at Children’s Mercy. But it’s much more complicated than that, she said.

Some young women get pregnant because it offers them a safety net. Many of these women have no family and no home as they age out of foster care at 18 in Kansas and 21 in Missouri.

“If they have a child, they are more likely to have people surrounding them making sure they have stable housing and someone to help them get employment and transportation,” she said. “You can understand why they do that; that’s all they know.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funds programs for both abstinence education and general risk avoidance in an attempt to reduce pregnancy among at-risk populations, including young adults aging out of foster care.


Read the full article via Flatland KC

Learn more about the Transition to Adulthood program at Children's Mercy