What Is Needed Now: Meaningfully engaging stakeholders to address the current situation for youth in care in Texas

In the first 6 months of this project, we conducted an environmental scan to determine the current context, needs, resources, and stakeholders in the state. We plan to continuously update the scan as new information becomes available. The environmental scan was completed using administrative data published by state agencies, previous and ongoing research with youth in foster care and their caregivers, and review of evidence-based sexuality education curricula.  Equitably engaging young people, their caregivers, and youth serving organizations was an important part of this process.

We interviewed 28 professionals as part of this process, including health care providers and experts, Texas Department of Child and Protective Services (DFPS) regional directors and youth specialists, child placing agency staff, educators, and a judge. Project Coordinators have begun outreach to organizations in their local communities to build Community Stakeholder Groups.

We interviewed 28 young adults with lived experience in foster care as part of an ongoing study on Learning About Healthy Relationships: The Experiences of Youth in Foster Care. To learn more about this study, click here to read an update from Dr. Barbara Ball.

Through this work, we established needs for each one of our target audiences:

Youth Need…
  • Ongoing dialogue about sexuality and relationships with trusted adults
  • Medically accurate, comprehensive sexual health education and teen pregnancy prevention programs
  • Access to trauma-informed sexual and reproductive health care
  • Interventions that are inclusive for LGBTQ+ youth
  • To build skills for healthy relationships
  • To feel empowered to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health
Caregivers Need…
  • Training and ongoing support to navigate sensitive issues with the youth in their care
  • To build confidence for talking with youth about sexuality and relationships
  • Help with clarifying roles and responsibilities among all the adults involved in youths’ lives
Organizations (including child placing agencies, health care providers, and child welfare professionals) Need…
  • Education and clarification about youth rights to consent to family planning and reproductive health services
  • Training and best practice guidelines to address the complex sexual health and relational needs of youth

Based on our environmental scan and our understanding of the needs of youth, caregivers, and organizations, we developed a plan that includes both online and in-person interventions for each of our target audiences.

You can read more about TFYHI’s intervention plan in our first progress report here.

It is through this process we decided that we needed to engage youth and their caregivers at the very beginning of this project by hiring consultants. Young Adult and Caregiver Consultants have been recruited and began meeting in January 2021. Eight young adults (Aged 18-25) with lived experience in foster care will meet monthly with TFYHI Project Director, Sharon Hoefer, via videoconference to provide guidance on the initiative and develop interventions such as a social marketing campaign.

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