In 2021 we founded the Policy Working Group (PWG), exploring ways to increase access to contraception through legislative advocacy. Over the last six months, the PWG has worked with peer organizations in New York and across the country to hone their focus on a single issue – access to contraception and age appropriate sex education for youth in foster care.
As of 2020, there are nearly 16,000 children in foster care in New York, and youth in foster care face disproportionately poor sexual health outcomes. Studies have shown that youth in foster care have rates of certain STIs at two to ten times the rate of the general population and by age 21, 60% of women who had been in foster care have experienced at least one pregnancy.
While we are aware of the poor outcomes, current laws in New York prevent meaningful research on the subject. Our inaugural PWG is exploring legislative and regulatory policies to connect data about youth health outcomes to data on youth in foster care. This would allow researchers to study the sexual health outcomes of youth in foster care, increasing access to contraception and age appropriate sex education for youth in foster care.