RHEP Foster Youth

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RHEPCON2023: Free Virtual Conference

 Thinking Outside Of The Systems:​

Reimagining healthy sexual development for youth in foster care

At this year’s Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth Conference, we are “thinking outside of the systems” we exist within. Conference sessions will discuss the current landscape of sexual & reproductive health, and reimagine what our systems would look like if they were truly made to serve all youth in foster care. Dr. Khiara M. Bridges headlines as keynote speaker, and session topics include: the state of abortion, alternative birthing experiences, culturally specific programming & models of care, young parenthood, and more!

This conference is made possible in part through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to the National Center for Youth Law to support the Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth (RHEP). We are grateful for their support.

The 2023 conference will take place virtually on February 16th, 2023.

Dr. Khiara M. Bridges is a professor of law at UC Berkeley School of Law. She has written many articles concerning race, class, reproductive rights, and the intersection of the three. Her scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the California Law Review, the NYU Law Review, and the Virginia Law Review, among others. She is also the author of three books: Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization (2011), The Poverty of Privacy Rights (2017), and Critical Race Theory: A Primer (2019). She is a coeditor of a reproductive justice book series that is published under the imprint of the University of California Press.

She graduated as valedictorian from Spelman College, receiving her degree in three years. She received her J.D. from Columbia Law School and her Ph.D., with distinction, from Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology. She speaks fluent Spanish and basic Arabic, and she is a classically trained ballet dancer.

For more about Professor Bridges, click here.

9-9:10 Artistic Offering

9:10-10:30 Keynote and Youth Panel

10:45-11:45 Breakout Sessions I

12:00-1:00 Breakout Sessions II

1:05-1:15 Artistic Offering

1:15-2:35 Award Presentation and Lunch Panel

2:50-3:50 Breakout Sessions III

4:00-5:00 Breakout Sessions IV

  1. Foster Youth Mental Health: Current Landscape and Accessing Medi-Cal Services
    • Presenters: Carly Myers, Nancy Lam, Dana Paycao, & Rachel Velcoff Hults
    • Organization: National Health Law Center and National Center for Youth Law
    • Description: This session will provide an overview of the mental health of foster youth and former foster youth in California, focusing on current trends in mental wellbeing and how youth can access mental health services through California’s Medicaid program (“Medi-Cal”). We will present data highlighting trends in youth mental health; and we will discuss what Medi-Cal mental health services are available, how youth can access them, and recent reforms that make it easier to access care.
  2. Crisis Pregnancy Centers”: How to help youth make informed decisions about their care
    • Presenters: Dr. Andrea Swartzendruber, Dr. Danielle Lambert, Autumn Taylor, Barbara Facher, & Mara Zeigler
    • Organization: Alliance for Children’s Rights, University of Georgia, and National Center for Youth Law 
    • Description: There are more crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) in California than abortion care clinics. CPCs often look like comprehensive reproductive health clinics. However, most do not offer abortion, contraceptives or prenatal care – indeed some do not even have licensed medical providers on staff. The goal of crisis pregnancy centers is to discourage people facing unintended pregnancies from accessing abortion care or the full range of contraceptive options, sometimes using misleading and false information. As many come to California for reproductive freedom, CPCs are also expanding. In this workshop, attendees will learn what a CPC is and how to help young people make informed choices as they seek services. Attendees will hear personal stories about their impact and be provided actionable resources and tools.
  3. Abortion and Gender Affirming Care: How do recent changes in laws impact foster youth access to care?
    • Presenters: Luciana Svidler & Rebecca Gudeman
    • Organization: Children’s Law Center and National Center for Youth Law
    • Description: The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade has pushed reproductive health rights to the forefront of health and political discourse. In addition, some states are waging an attack on trans youth and their families by trying to limit access to gender-affirming care. Even before these changes, youth in care faced additional barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive care. This workshop will review the landscape of newly enacted laws and proposed legislation impacting access to abortion and gender-affirming care across the country. We will talk about the specific implications of these laws on healthcare access for youth in care and how best to support youth access to the services and education they want and need. 
  4. Reproductive Justice: Early Defense of Young Parents in Foster Care
    • Presenters: Kaveh Landsverk & Ebony Porter
    • Organization: Children’s Law Center
    • Description: Children’s Law Center of California’s Pre-Filing Representation Project aims to keep families together by providing young and soon-to-be parents with the resources and support they need to thrive. In this workshop, we will discuss our experience developing a pre-petition representation project dedicated to young parents in foster care. Through the use of selected case studies and relevant research, we will consider how early defense projects like ours fit into struggles for reproductive justice and equity.
  5. More sessions coming soon!
  1. It Takes a Village but Where do I Start?
    • Presenters: Dayna Freier & Alexa Weishaar
    • Organization: Fostering UNITY 
    • Description: There are many moving parts within the foster care system and knowing where we stand can sometimes be hard to identify. Fostering UNITY will look at three layers of the system to identify how our impact has a ripple effect and how our services can positively impact our youth in care. The goal? Bridging the gap within foster care so that our youth have a strong, inter-connective network that supports their health, well-being, and growth.
  2. What are youth saying?
    • Presenters: Luciana Svidler & Rebecca Gudeman
    • Organization: Children’s Law Center and National Center for Youth Law
    • Description: In 2019 and 2021, the Reproductive Health Equity Project for Foster Youth surveyed a representative sample of Los Angeles County youth in foster care to understand how they receive sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services. The study also asked about child welfare workers’ roles in providing SRH information and services, shedding light on implementation of California’s Foster Youth Sexual Health Education Act (SB 89), which was passed in 2017. In this workshop, attendees will learn about the results from the two surveys of youth including where they get sexual health information, how they access care, as well as barriers that they faced. We will also highlight differences in results based on age, gender, sexual orientation or racial or ethnic identity. Attendees will learn about the role that social workers have played in ensuring that Los Angeles County youth in foster care receive the care and support mandated by legislation. The presentation will provide opportunities for discussion around what results may mean and what these results may suggest for future research and next steps.
  3. Built to Last: Creating Nurturing and Thriving Spaces for Young People
    • Presenters: Steph Zapata
    • Description: Attend this session to challenge and define support and care through radical intentionality and vulnerability. A Thriving Space is needed if we want our young people to live beyond survival. Steph will guide participants from the path of unlearning colonial notions of safety traditionally centered on action/accomplishment, to understanding the profound impact of a feeling-centered approach. Here are your tools to create a space where youth come into awareness and relation with their own emotional consciousness.
  4. More sessions coming soon!
  1. Guaranteed Income During Pregnancy to Advance Reproductive Justice: The Abundant Birth Project
    • Presenters: Dr. Anu Gomez & Jessica Allen 
    • Organization: University of California, Berkeley
    • Description: The Abundant Birth Project (ABP) is the first guaranteed income program for pregnant people in the U.S. Designed in partnership with community, ABP provides $1000 monthly to Black and Pacific Islander pregnant women and birthing people in San Francisco, CA, no strings attached. Lessons learned from our community-driven program development and evaluation process have important implications for future guaranteed income programs that aim to promote economic, racial, and reproductive justice.
  2. Supporting Youth Survivors of Commerical Sexual Exploitation Through Reproductive Experiences
    • Presenters: Maria Contreras, Alia Dewees, Angelica Zuniga, & Chelsey Holzer
    • Organization:  National Center for Youth Law
    • Description: This session will provide an understanding of the needs of youth experiencing commercial sexual exploitation who are also experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, parenting and who are seeking other reproductive care. Lived experience experts will share practical tips to understand how trauma may manifest and how service providers can and should continue to support youth through these experiences.
  3. New Medi-Cal Services to Support Reproductive and Sexual Health for Foster Youth and Former Foster Youth: Full Spectrum Doula Care and Community Health Workers
    • Presenters: Amy Chen, Jasmine Young, & Andrea Mackey
    • Organization: National Health Law Program
    • Description: “Please join us for a two-part panel on Medi-Cal coverage of full spectrum doula care and community health workers. The first part of the panel will share information about these two new services and how they can benefit foster youth and former foster youth. The second part of the panel will be a moderated discussion with Shene Bowie, a doula, and Andrea Mackey, a community health worker, to hear from them both directly about these services.
  4. Incorporating ancestral knowledge and practices in sex ed conversations
    • Presenters: Ceci Martinez & Franchesca Ocasio
    • Organization: Planned Parenthood Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley
    • Description: Like everything in the world around us, sex education is informed by white supremacy and the lasting impacts of colonization. As sexual health educators, we are uniquely positioned to offer culturally relevant information to include the experiences of systemically excluded communities. Join us for an interactive conversation around cultural knowledge and practices that can be incorporated into sex-ed conversations. None of us have all the solutions, but together we can work towards a sex ed that acknowledges and honors a variety of cultural perspectives. 
  5. Exploring Barriers to Abortion for Foster Youth in California 
    • Presenters: Dr. Susie Baldwin, Kate Peters, Alonso Machuca, Erika Martinez Abad, Isabel Checa, Karla Hernandez, & Nicolle Perras
    • Organization: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
    • Description: Los Angeles County (LAC) is implementing a state-funded Abortion Safe Haven pilot program to expand equitable access to care both for County residents and visitors. The LAC Department of Public Health (DPH) is eager to structure the Abortion Safe Haven pilot to serve the needs of marginalized and systems-involved populations, including foster youth. As the DPH Office of Women’s Health and partners develop the LAC Abortion Safe Haven roadmap, we want to hear from youth, caregivers, health care and social service providers, child welfare workers, public health nurses and deputy probation officers about the barriers to abortion care for foster youth. In this 60-minute session, we have three key objectives: 1) Share a brief introduction on the LAC Safe Haven Abortion pilot; 2) Facilitate a conversation with session participants about abortion access for foster youth; and 3) Build linkages with youth and stakeholders in this field to facilitate coordinated and complimentary programming.
  1. Healing Centered Approaches to Reproductive Coercion and Exploitation
    • Presenters: Dr. Elizabeth Miller
    • Organization: University of Pittsburgh and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
    • Description: This presentation will describe the history of research on reproductive coercion, outline the impact of reproductive coercion on young people’s health, and describe promising clinic-based interventions to prevent and address reproductive coercion in health care settings. A healing justice framework that supports youth strengths, resiliency, and autonomy grounds this work. 
  2. Foster-Friendly Healthcare: Concrete approaches to delivering sexual healthcare to youth in foster care
    • Presenters: Alexis Obinna & Erica Monasterio 
    • Organization: University of California, San Francisco and National Center for Youth Law
    • Description: A multidisciplinary team working with RHEP, including youth with foster care experience, developed “The Foster Friendly Healthcare Toolkit” to explain what it takes to implement inclusive, respectful sexual and reproductive health (SRH) care that contributes to building a sense of agency for youth in care and with diverse identities. The Toolkit includes tools to evaluate and modify both individual practice as well as the practice environment so that youth in foster care can successfully access SRH care. This presentation will introduce the Toolkit and its content. After attending this workshop, participants will be prepared to engage in a preliminary evaluation of their own program and practice for its ‘foster friendliness” and identify concrete changes they can implement to improve the quality and accessibility of their program for youth, including youth in foster care.
  3. Navigating the Intimate Space of Sexual Personhood
    • Presenters: Vanessa Davis 
    • Organization: Rise and Thrive Healing Communities
    • Description: I am a victim and survivor of sexual violence and I also spent 16 formative years of my life in the foster care system. This experience left me with many lessons that have shaped who I am, especially in terms of my experience with sexual relationships and my own sexual identity. I have also had the experience of becoming a foster parent to my siblings, a parent to my son, a social worker, and a lived experience mentor, educator, and facilitator of Healing Spaces for those I consider my peers. I am deeply aware of the complexity of navigating intimate discussions regarding sex and sexual experiences. From my multi-view perspective, the foster care system can be antithetical to navigating this intimate space and yet, our skillful navigation of this space can support personal and systemic transformation. This interactive learning space will provide tools to support attendees in cultivating their unique capacity to be an informed guide and resource in fostering healing, healthy, and restorative sexual experiences and practices for themselves and others.
  • Will there be continuing education provided?
    • No, however all participants will receive a certificate of attendance.
  • Is the conference free?
    • Yes! That said, we welcome donations to help support the conference.
  • Is this suitable for attendees who are not in California? 
    • Yes. While several workshops will focus on California law and practice, there are many more that are not place-based or focused.
  • Will interpretation be provided?
    • Yes. Please make sure to indicate your interpretation needs in the registration form. 
  • Will the sessions be recorded? 
    • Yes. Registered attendees will be able to access recordings of most workshops on the conference website for a brief time after the conclusion of the conference. 
  • Who do I contact if I have questions?

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