Power Through Choices is the first evidence-based curriculum tailored for the special needs, situations, and concerns of youth in systems of care and addresses the specific characteristics which may motivate these youth to become pregnant or engage in sexual risk-taking behavior.
Some of these reasons may include:
- Intense need for affection
- Absence of a dependable family or social network
- Desire to have something of their own that they do not have to share
- Exposure to sexual abuse or violence
- Limited skills in identifying and securing resources, other than sex, to support themselves now and in the future
These characteristics tend to be magnified among youth in systems of care because of prior deprivation and/or social isolation, placing them at increased risk for sexual activity, pregnancy, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Although the exact rates of sexual activity, teen pregnancy, and births among youth in the foster care and juvenile justice systems are not known, research indicates that this population is far more sexually active than youth in general (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office of Adolescent Health, 2016). Other research documents that young people in foster care are 2.5 times more likely to have a pregnancy by age 19 compared to those not in foster care, according to the “Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth” (Courtney, et al., 2011). Additionally, nearly half (46%) of teen girls in foster care who have been pregnant have had a subsequent pregnancy, compared to 20% of their peers outside the system (Bilaver & Courtney, 2006).