AGE-OLD PROBLEM: BABIES HAVING BABIES

June 18, 2007

For thousands of children in foster care, Florida has been a woefully indifferent parent when it comes to teaching the facts of life, leading to one of the most pernicious cycles in American child welfare: foster children begetting more foster children, says the Miami Herald.

The children and their advocates say most foster girls have never been told where babies come from -- though they typically find out the way most kids do, from friends. Historically, caseworkers and foster parents were discouraged from discussing anything but abstinence as a birth-control measure, advocates say.

  • As a result, foster kids are more likely to get pregnant and give birth than children living at home, research shows.
  • And they're more likely to suffer the consequences -- dropping out of high school or becoming dependent on public assistance as adults.
  • More than 28,316 children in Florida are receiving out-of-home care, such as foster care, from the Department of Children & Families, DCF spokesman Al Zimmerman said. Among them are 3,728 girls between 13 and 17.

Also:

  • Florida child welfare administrators do not track the number of girls who become pregnant each year, but a smattering of research from across the United States reflects the problem.
  • A 2005 study by the University of Chicago, for example, found that nearly one-third of 17-year-old and 18-year-old foster girls had been pregnant.

The extremely large number of adolescent foster kids who run away each year -- as of last week, close to 600 children in state care were listed as ''missing'' -- contributes to the problem, said Broward Circuit Judge John A. Frusciante.

''A fair number of girls who run away come back pregnant,'' Frusciante said. They often return seeking help, he added, but run again after giving birth.

Source: Carol Marbin Miller, "Age-old problem: babies having babies," Miami Herald, June 18, 2007.

 

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