Cumulative teen birth rates among girls in foster care at age 17: an analysis of linked birth and child protection records from Californiaedit
This study used linked foster care and birth records to provide a longitudinal, population-level examination of the incidence of first and repeat births among girls who were in foster care at age 17. Girls in a foster care placement in California at the age of 17 between 2003 and 2007 were identified from statewide child protection records. These records were probabilistically matched to vital birth records spanning the period from 2001 to 2010. Linked data were used to estimate the cumulative percentage of girls who had given birth before age 20. Birth rates and unadjusted risk ratios were generated to characterize foster care experiences correlated with heightened teen birth rates. Between 2003 and 2007 in California, there were 20,222 girls in foster care at age 17. Overall, 11.4% had a first birth before age 18. The cumulative percentage who gave birth before age 20 was 28.1%. Among girls who had a first birth before age 18, 41.2% had a repeat teen birth. Significant variations by race/ethnicity and placement-related characteristics emerged. Expanded data and rigorous research are needed to evaluate prevention efforts and ensure parenting teens are provided with the needed services and supports.