As National Foster Care Month comes to a close, we want to reflect on recent policy motions that advance outcomes for transition age foster youth here in Los Angeles. While much work still lies ahead, these policy shifts demonstrate significant local momentum in addressing the needs of vulnerable subpopulations of foster youth. Our Foster Youth Strategic Initiative places a special focus on supporting pregnant or parenting foster youth, as well as “crossover youth” who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. As we recently reported, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved a motion to establish a multidisciplinary system throughout Los Angeles County to keep foster youth out of the juvenile justice system, representing a new wave of local support for this subpopulation.
May is not only National Foster Care Month; it was also officially declared National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month through a motion authored by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Sheila Kuehl. Despite the fact that rates of teen pregnancy in the county are decreasing overall, the motion acknowledges that “our most vulnerable children are still at risk,” referencing that girls in foster care are 2.5 times more likely than those not in the child welfare system to experience unintended pregnancy. The motion also includes a call-to-action for the Departments of Health, Public Health, Mental Health, Children and Family Services, and Probation to actively cooperate with groups like the Foundation-funded Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (LA RHEP), which improves access to sexual and reproductive health care services for foster youth.
We are encouraged by the dedication and commitment of our local government in supporting the evolving needs of foster youth countywide. We thank our grantees and other partners for their ongoing work in this field and look forward to furthering cross-sector partnerships in support of all transition age foster youth.