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RHEPCON2023 Virtual Conference

Thinking Outside Of The Systems: (Re)Imagining Healthy Sexual Development For Youth In Foster Care

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

At this year’s #RHEPcon23, we explored “thinking outside of the systems” we exist within. Conference sessions discussed the current landscape of sexual & reproductive health, and reimagined what our systems would look like if they were truly made to serve all youth in foster care. Dr. Khiara M. Bridges headlined as keynote speaker. Sessions covered a wide range of topics including, the state of abortion, alternative birthing experiences, culturally specific programming & models of care, young parenthood, and more!

This conference was 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.

Thank you Rio for the graphic recording! Check out Rio’s website here 

Session Highlights

Abortion and Gender-Affirming Care: How Do Recent Changes in Laws Impact Foster Youth Access to Care?

Speakers: Rebecca Gudeman and Luciana Svidler

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.

What are Youth Saying about Sexual and Reproductive Health? Results from RHEP's Youth Survey

Speakers: Rebecca Gudeman and Luciana Svidler

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.

The Foster-Friendly Healthcare Toolkit: A Guide to Delivering Quality Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare to Youth in Foster Care

Speakers: Erica Monasterio and Alexis Obinna

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 some of 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.

Healing Centered Approaches to Reproductive Coercion and Exploitation

Speakers: Dr. Elizabeth Miller

This presentation describes the history of research on reproductive coercion, outlines the impact of reproductive coercion on young people’s health, and describes 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.

Artistic Performance

Rainbow Rainbow By Poetry Knows (Ze/Zir)​ follow Parker on TikTok and Instagram.

“The Impact Of Dobbs Keynote And Youth Panel”
Graphic Recording by Rio Holaday

“Thinking Outside The Systems: How Culturally Specific Services Impact Youth”
Graphic Recording by Rio Holaday

Other Sessions:
  • Built to Last: Creating Nurturing and Thriving Spaces for Young People (video here)
  • Reproductive Justice: Early Defense of Young Parents in Foster Care (video here)
  • It Takes A Village, But Where Do I Start? (video here)
  • Shifting From Trauma-informed to Trauma-responsive Engagement (video here)

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