On Thursday, May 25, Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced new legislation that attempts to develop and promote strategies to reduce the rate of teen and unplanned pregnancies within the foster care population.

The legislation, which has been endorsed by CWLA, is called the Supporting Foster Youth in Successful Parenting Act of 2017, would direct states to take certain steps as far as reporting on children and youth in foster care regarding unplanned pregnancies.  It would provide an additional $50 million annually through Title IV-B to fund competitive grants to states to develop research and evidenced based strategies to support youth in foster care in successful parenting and preventing unplanned pregnancies.

In introducing the bill, Congressman Davis said, “Unfortunately, teen foster youth are twice as likely as their non-foster-youth peers to have a baby, with many of these young women having more than one pregnancy by age 19.  Approximately half of 21-year-old male foster youth report getting a partner pregnant compared to only one-third of their non-foster-youth peers. It is shameful that Federal child welfare funding fails to do anything about it.  This is why I worked closely with national experts to develop legislation to increase Federal investment in and improve governmental policies supporting these youth and their children.”

Currently, Federal child welfare policy lacks dedicated funds or policies to help foster youth prevent unintended pregnancies or to promote the healthy development of expectant or parenting foster youth, noncustodial parents, or their children.

Teen pregnancy is linked to long-term health, economic, social, and academic hardships for both parents and their children.  Over the past twenty years the United States has made significant progress in reducing teen pregnancies but young people in and leaving foster care have a much higher rate.

The Davis legislation is an attempt to strengthen the child welfare infrastructure to prevent unintended pregnancies among foster youth and to promote the well-being of expectant or parenting foster youth (including non-custodial parents) and their children.