Am J Orthopsychiatry 2015 Jan;85(1):80-92
Department of Psychology, Florida International University.
The purpose of this article is to examine youth care workers' perceptions of the specific and unique sexual health needs of youth at risk for foster care. Semistructured interviews were conducted with youth care workers (N = 10) at a shelter for youth in or at risk for foster care. Youth care workers perceive that youth have unique experiences and needs related to sexual health programming and pregnancy prevention. Reflecting a great deal of family dysfunction, 3 themes emerged that revealed perceived benefits of teen pregnancy: youths' effort to prove themselves as adults, opportunity to secure their relationship with a partner, and desire to create an emotional connection with a baby. Lack of knowledge and accumulation of risk factors were viewed as most problematic. Current pregnancy prevention programs assume teen pregnancies are unwanted and emphasize the costs of sexual risk taking. Current findings suggest that sexual health programming for youth in or at risk for foster care should account for 3 perceived benefits of teen pregnancy. New opportunities for improving the reach and effectiveness of intervention for youth in or at risk for foster care are discussed.