Pregnant and Parenting Teens in Foster Care
Pregnant and parenting teens in the Cook County Child Protection system face a unique set of challenges. Statistics show a strong need for effective support, guidance, and advocacy in order for these young parents and pregnant youth to succeed in their path to achieving independence.
In a study of foster youth in three Midwestern states, 1/3 reported having been pregnant, and 2/3 of those reported that the pregnancy was unwanted.1 Among older foster girls in Illinois, 40% of African American and 12% of Caucasian girls were pregnant or parenting.2
- Twenty-eight percent of older girls (17 and up) in foster care in Illinois had custody of one or more children.3
- Social workers in Illinois reported that, of older foster girls with custody of a child, 30% were having "somewhat of a problem" and another 8% were having "very much of a problem" with parenting.4
- Pregnancy and parenting doubled the risk of dropping out of school among older foster teens, based on a study of Illinois youth. Dropping out of high school put youth at high risk of unemployment.5
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Pregnant and parenting youth in the Cook County Child Protection System are offered several supportive services through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Some of these services include:
- Health Care
- Parenting Training
- Outreach to Fathers
- Educational Assistance
- Preventative Services such as family life education, family planning services, family counseling, and sex education (including information on the prevention and treatment of disease as well as the prevention of pregnancy)
- Respite Care
- Day Care
- Review of Placement Options
To help coordinate and ensure pregnant and parenting youth get the full range of supportive services available to them, a Teen Parent Coordinator will be appointed to the youth through the Department of Children and Family Services.
The Teen Parent Coordinator, along with the youth’s attorney/GAL, will advocate for the youth and ensure they receive every opportunity to succeed in their parenting role and assist them in achieving independence.
1 Courtney, Terao, and Bost, 2004, Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Conditions of Youth Preparing to Leave State Care.
2 Leathers and Testa, 2002, Foster Youth Emancipating From Care: Caseworkers' Reports on Needs and Services. Illinois: University of Illinois at Chicago Jane Adams College of Social Work.
3 Leathers and Testa, 2002.
4 Leathers and Testa, 2002.
5 Leathers and Testa, 2002.
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