Frequently Asked Questions

What is LA RHEP?

The Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (LA RHEP) brings together foster youth and the agencies that serve them to promote evidence-informed strategies that reduce unplanned pregnancies and dismantle systemic barriers to sexual and reproductive health education and service access for youth in foster care. Our goal is to dramatically reduce unintended pregnancy rates for youth in care over the next ten years.

Our key strategies include:

  1. Build local capacity to empower youth and prevent unplanned pregnancy by providing trauma-informed and culturally-relevant education, training, and resources directly to foster youth, caregivers, community-based health providers, social workers, and judicial officers;
  2. Pursue local and state-level policy changes to support Los Angeles County’s efforts to empower youth and remove barriers to preventing unplanned pregnancy;
  3. Launch a comprehensive public awareness campaign as a platform for advocacy and information-sharing; and
  4. Engage a Youth Advisory Board comprised of young people with a diverse array of lived experience in foster care to actively participate in and shape policy and advocacy efforts.

 

What is Collective Impact?

LA RHEP is a collective impact project.  Los Angeles has many advocacy and governmental organizations with a long history of important public and private efforts designed to support pregnant and parenting foster youth. These organizations have successfully developed innovative programs and coordinated efforts in the past and continue to do so.  Yet, Los Angeles County is large and serves many children in foster care, thus making coordinated efforts to reach and improve outcomes for all foster youth a challenge.

Collective impact is a new way of working together to tackle the particularly sticky and complicated big issues. It is a framework that allows organizations from different sectors and with different expertise to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems in a coordinated way.

 

Who is leading the development of LA RHEP?

LA RHEP’s development is led by a cross-sector leadership team that includes the agencies listed on the About Us page. The National Center for Youth Law provides backbone support for the Los Angeles Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth.

 

I or my organization is interested in participating. How do we get involved?

LA RHEP is a new initiative.  We are currently seeking partners who are interested in:

  • Receiving sexual and reproductive health training, education, and resources for foster youth, caregivers, social workers, health providers, and/or judicial officers;
  • Engaging in policy development and implementation in Los Angeles County to prevent unplanned pregnancy among foster youth;
  • Connecting current and former foster youth to the LA RHEP Youth Advisory Board; and
  • Building public will around this issue through contributing to a public awareness campaign.

For more information, please contact LA RHEP’s Director Lesli LeGras at llegras@youthlaw.org

 

How is LA RHEP supported?

LA RHEP is generously funded in substantial part by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

 

Who are the youth in foster care in Los Angeles?

Los Angeles County currently serves 35,800 youth in foster care and is the largest child welfare system in California. About 30% are between the ages of 11 and 17, and 11.5% are 18-21. 49.6% are male and 50.4% are female. Los Angeles’ child welfare system is disproportionately represented with children of color: 58.7% are Latino, 29% are Black and 10.5% are White.

Foster youth self-report a disproportionately high rate of unwanted pregnancy. This unconscionably high rate of unwanted pregnancy highlights that barriers are impeding youth in foster care from realizing their intent.

 

What do you think will make a difference?

Sexual and reproductive health intersect in complex ways with other influences in a child and teen’s life over their time in care, including among others, economic and educational opportunities, the availability of safe relationships and placements, and the influence of explicit and implicit bias. Successfully addressing unplanned pregnancy prevention requires coordinated efforts with youth, caregivers, agencies, and state systems at many tiers and across all ages. To ensure L.A. County foster youth can take ownership of their bodies and sexual and reproductive health and reduce unplanned pregnancy, it is critical foster youth:

  1. Be knowledgeable about puberty, development, and healthy relationships;
  2. Receive youth centered, trauma informed, comprehensive sex education;
  3. Be knowledgeable about their rights regarding sexual health information and services, and know where and how to access information and services;
  4. Be able to access confidential sexual and reproductive health services and information through the child welfare system or on their own;
  5. Make choices about sexual and reproductive health with full knowledge about the future opportunities and support available to them;
  6. Be provided with coordinated educational supports so that they graduate from high school and are on a pathway to career technical education or college; and
  7. Have knowledgeable and trusted adults in their lives who can provide judgment-free, accurate support and guidance on sexual and reproductive health questions.