Redefining Safe for Youth in Foster Care

Child & Family Resources' The Grrrls Project recently hosted the first-ever, and one-of-a-kind conference focused on the sexual health education needs of youth in foster care.

March 17-18, 2016, 110 attendees came together, as sexual health professionals and/or professionals working with systems-involved youth, to increase the number of "askable" adults in our community. Askable adults are approachable and informed adults trained in trauma informed care, inclusivity, safe environments, and sexual and reproductive health.

Sexuality is a key part of normal youth development. "Sexuality is an integral part of each person’s identity. Learning about our sexuality and achieving sexual health and well-being are lifelong processes that begin at birth and continue throughout our lives." (Planned Parenthood.)  However, system-involved youth are at higher risk for gaps in education and access to accurate information, as well as victimization. They have specific and important needs that aren't always addressed in standard sexual-health curricula. 

The two-day conference provided an opportunity for attendees chose from one of two tracks:

1. Providing Medically Accurate Sexuality

Increase knowledge of sexual health and how to provide medically accurate information in a way that is safe and inclusive

2. Specific Needs of System-involved Youth

Increase knowledge of the specific needs of systems-involved youth and how to adapt common sexual health lessons to better meet the needs of traumatized and exploited youth

Tracks included 

  • Addressing the Sexual Health Needs of System-Involved Youth through Collaboration 
  • Firing on All Cylinders: Adolescent Brain Development and Talking about Making Choices
  • Being an “Askable Adult”
  • Meeting the Sexual Health Needs of Youth in Foster Care
  • The State of Foster Care in Arizona
  • Sex Ed 101: What You Thought You Already Knew About Birth Control and STDs
  • Youth Friendly Referral System
  • Arts Infusion Strategies
  • Trauma Informed Self Care

Experts in their field joined as presenters and facilitators: Itege Bailey, Cynnamon Woodberry, Sarah McNamara, Piper Weinberg, Janene Fluhr, Barbara Guillen, LaJuana Johnson, Vicki Hadd-Wissler, Maria Rodriguez, Arcelia Cornidez, Bryanda Acuña, Virginia Miller, MiaMichelle Henry, Teresa Simone, and Dr. Jeff Dozoretz, 

Feedback on the conference was impressive. 

- Connecting with others. Good tools to take back with me
- Trauma informed care/ understanding that I can not do all or everything that is needed but I am just a piece of that change
- Meeting all of the wonderful people that work with families and gaining new perspective on how to engage families

Please stay-tuned for the dates of the March 2017 Redefining Safe conferenc, and learn how to become an askable adult! 

The Grrrls Project is a program of Child & Family Resources, Inc., funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family & Youth Services Bureau.

Tucson Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition Awarded $4.3 Million to Build Sex Education Programming in Sunnyside School District

With some of the highest teen birth rates and sexually transmitted infections in the United States, Arizona is facing a public health and educational crisis. Four local nonprofits—Teen Outreach Pregnancy Services, Planned Parenthood Arizona, Sunnyside Unified School District, and Child & Family Resources—mobilized as the Tucson Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition (TTPPC) to implement effective, evidence-based, medically accurate, responsible relationships and sexuality education to middle and high school students in the Sunnyside district.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with our partners at the TTPPC to finally be able to bring much needed sex education resources to the Sunnyside community,” said Daniel Hernandez, President of the Sunnyside School District Governing Board. “We hope that this success will lead to other districts following our lead to ensure that the students of Arizona have the information they need to make informed choices.”

This July, the US DHHS, Office of Adolescent Health awarded the coalition $4.3 million, over five years, to train Sunnyside staff, primarily health and science teachers, to teach abstinence-based sexuality education. By the spring of 2016, parents in the Sunnyside district will have the option of allowing their children to receive this important health information. The middle school Making a Difference and high school Reducing the Risk curricula are both evidence-based and age-appropriate curricula that encourage abstinence as a first choice while also providing information about methods of protection. Pregnant or parenting teens will be able to participate in a teen-parent focused program Be Proud, Be Responsible, Be Protective. By 2020, all programs will be self-sustaining within the district. The funding also supports an independent outcomes evaluation of the program by Tucson based LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc.

Over 100 studies have shown that high-quality sexuality education helps young people delay the initiation of sex, and use condoms and contraception when they do become sexually active. These are the very behaviors that are necessary to preventing pregnancy. In 2010, public spending on teen childbearing in the United States totaled an estimated $9.4 billion. Investments in effective teen pregnancy prevention programs are not only providing young people with the information and skills they need to make healthy decisions; they are also good for taxpayers.