Developmentally Appropriate Approaches to Discussing Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights with Foster Youth

Middle Adolescents

Developmental Characteristics and Conversation Starters
Age Range (stages/ages are variable and fluid):
Biological Females: 14-16 years, Biological Males: 16-17 years

The following are suggestions for opening a discussion to address SRH rights of middle adolescents in foster care. Keeping in mind that each young person is unique and each professional-young person relationship is different, these suggested approaches are merely that—potential conversation openers.
For middle adolescents, the focus should shift from development to healthy relationships and risk reduction to get the conversation started:

I want to help you take care of yourself as a whole person, and that includes talking about relationships, sex, and protection. You may have had classes at school, but lots of young people want more information or help getting the care they need to prevent pregnancy and diseases that can be passed by having sex. Many youth in foster care have experienced trauma; they have had hard things happen to them in their lives, including unwanted sexual
experiences, and that can also make it tough to talk about this or ask for help in getting the health care that you need. I would like to share some information and resources with you about sexual health…is that something that you are okay talking about with me today?

Conversation Starters:

Related to
their right
to getting SRH
Have you had classes in middle and high school about relationships and sex, pregnancy, birth control, and how to prevent STDs—the germs that you can get from having sex? Sometimes youth in foster care miss out on these classes, or don’t get all of their questions
Related to
their right
to consent
If you are thinking about having sex or are already having sex, you can go to a doctor or clinic for a check-up, a pregnancy test, or birth control, and you can get this care on your own without asking permission from your foster parent, parent, group home staff, case worker, or court. If you go to a doctor or clinic, the things you talk about that have to do with sex, pregnancy, birth control, or diseases that you can get from having sex (STDs) are between you and the doctor or clinic staff—it is what we call ‘confidential.’
The only time things are not confidential are if you tell them you are thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, if someone has hurt you, or if you are under 16 and having sex with someone who is 21 or older. If those things come up, for your safety, they may need to contact someone for help. What questions do you have about confidentiality?
Related to
their right to
access SRH
services and
case manager’s role
in removing or
mitigating barriers
Finding a clinic, making an appointment and getting to your appointments can be hard, and I am here to help you get the care that you need. You can ask for my help without telling me all the details… my job is to support you in taking care of yourself.