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RHEP 2021 Virtual Conference

“What Does Sex Have to Do with Hope, Healing and Resilience? Healthy Sexual Development to Improve Outcomes for Youth in Foster Care”

Thursday, August 5th, 2021

#RHEPCON21 took place last month! This conference was an opportunity for youth and their network of supportive adults to receive education and tools to empower youth in foster care in making informed decisions about their bodies, relationships, reproductive lives and futures. Special thanks to our community partners and Youth Advisory Board members for leading the informational sessions. And thank you so much to all of our attendees for joining us in youth-centered discussions and collective healing.


Head – Heart – Hands + Hope 


The conference sessions followed our initial RHEP framework: Head, Heart and Hands. Attendees left with an understanding of updated laws and policies pertaining to foster youth, such as the RHEP sponsored SB89 and AB366 bill (“Head”). Youth collaboration throughout the event, ensured that the voices and experiences of current and former foster youth were leading our narrative shifting campaign (“Heart”). Attendees also received information on new sexual and reproductive health services for foster youth, such as the “Youth Patient Navigator” and the “Teen Talk YAS Virtual Sex Ed Curriculum” (“Hands”).


This year we also integrated Hope into our framework, as we emphasized the need to integrate hope into our conversations around healing and resiliency, when discussing healthy development with and for foster youth.

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Conference Highlights - RHEP Initiatives

Piloting Supportive & Inclusive                                                            Health Navigators in LA County

How do we support youth in foster care who are accessing health services? Check out this overview of the creation of the novel Sexual and Reproductive Health Navigator Program at the Olive View Medical Center Hub Clinic and Planned Parenthood San Gabriel Valley. Tune in to see how this program was created, the importance of the program for youth in foster care, our initial impact, and future plans.

RHEP partners at UCLA Medical & PPSGV discuss our new service that supports the healthy development of youth in foster care. Patient Navigator’s provide foster youth with one-on-one support navigating the healthcare system. See this flyer for more information.

Connecting Youth to State-Compliant Sex Ed:                Learning from the Pilot

Ensuring that youth in foster care are connected to high quality sexual health education is a critical factor in providing the tools that cultivate youth empowerment and agency. Teen Talk YAS (TTYAS) is a trauma-informed and healing-centered virtual curriculum for youth in foster care, developed in collaboration with youth formerly in care, that builds on their wisdom, creates community, and provides opportunities to practice talking about their values in a safe space. It also meets the requirements for SB 89 and the CA Healthy Youth Act. Watch this session to learn about the piloting of TTYAS, learnings from working with youth in different settings, and creating community with youth.

RHEP partners introduce TeenTalk YAS virtual curriculum as an innovative solution to providing foster youth with comprehensive Sex Ed. 

Top Sessions of the Day!

“How to Talk About Porn & Sexually Explicit          Media with Youth”

Speaker: Avry Shellenbach

Youth and adults have expressed a need for open, honest discussions about porn: what it is, whether it is harmful or beneficial, and whether it serves as de-facto sex ed. With an increase in the volume of free pornography, young people are curious about it, while many adults are anxious about its accessibility and feel powerless to intervene. Learn about a model of media literacy aimed at engaging educators, caregivers, and youth to improve relationships, boundary-setting, and consent.

“Expecting & Parenting While Surviving Exploitation: A conversation with two survivors of childhood commercial sexual exploitation”

Speakers: Kia, Maria Contreras

This session highlights first-hand experience of what it is like to be an expecting or parenting youth and experience commercial sexual exploitation (CSE). The presenters discuss reproductive needs and sensitivities specific for this population of youth as well as the misconceptions that exist when working with expecting and parenting youth experiencing CSE.

“Foster-Friendly Healthcare: Meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of youth in foster care”

Speaker: Erica Monasterio

Youth in foster care have their own unique circumstances and must draw on their strengths and manage their vulnerabilities as they navigate becoming an adult. Healthcare providers are well-positioned to offer support, tools and information that can help youth on this journey. This discussion focused on the practical application of the basic tenets of inclusive, respectful, and empowering health care provision, and we will introduce a new health care provider toolkit.

Telling Our Own Stories: Former Foster Youth Experiences With Barriers and Healing During Covid-19

The Intersection Working Group (IWG), is a subset of RHEP’s Youth Advisory Board. This group conducted a Youth-Led research project, last year during the pandemic to better understand the complex experiences of former foster youth during COVID-19. Co-authors Alexandra Gomez, Felicia Reyes, Autumn Taylor, Cindy Evans, Jaci Cortez & Jay R. concluded their research with a report that highlights personal testimonios, interpretations of systemic inequities, and analysis’ of different sociopolitical contexts. The IGW led a panel discussion at the conference where they reviewed takeaways and recommendations from the report that can inform future policy changes. You can read the full report here.

Misaki Ogawa, YAB Member

Missed this years conference? Don't worry! RHEP hosts annual conferences.
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