The following case scenarios illustrate some of the possible situations case managers may face in assisting foster youth with their reproductive health. Also included are the legal responsibilities of the case manager and some best practice suggestions for how a case manager should respond to the youth’s needs or request.
Scenario: Jill is a sixteen year-old foster youth. She lets her case manager know that she had unprotected sex recently and now she has missed her period and thinks she might be pregnant.
What is the Case Manager required to do? The case manager must remind Jill of her personal rights, including the right to consent to pregnancy related care, which includes contraception, abortion and prenatal care. The case manager shall ask the youth if she needs any assistance with scheduling an appointment for pregnancy testing and if the youth needs assistance with transportation to any necessary medical appointments.
What are some best practices for the case manager in this scenario? The case manager should approach this situation with sensitivity and concern for the youth. An unintended pregnancy can be a stressful and terrifying experience. The case manager should ensure that the youth’s needs are met without letting their own personal biases affect their treatment of the youth’s situation. In addition to the immediate needs of scheduling the appointment and arranging transportation, the case manager should ask the youth what other kinds of support she needs. Is it ok for the case manager to talk to others involved with Jill’s case about Jill’s possible pregnancy, such as Jill’s foster parents, her Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), attorney and/or birth parents? The case manager could create a document listing who is and is not allowed to know of Jill’s condition and review this list with Jill to ensure Jill agrees. The case manager should also provide and share local resources available to the youth such as any available support groups for pregnant youth (if needed), health clinics that provide reproductive health care services, and ways to access free contraception. The case manager should also follow up with the youth after the youth sees the doctor and determine what other needs the youth may have.