Incorporating Social Determinants of Health and Equity in Practice to Address Sexual and Reproductive Health for Young People Involved in Foster Care

September 2022

This brief aims to provide child welfare practice professionals (e.g., caseworkers) information about the societal conditions that influence young peoples’ sexual and reproductive health—the “social determinants of health”—and offer them guidance on incorporating this knowledge in daily practice.

Social determinants of health are the social, economic, and environmental conditions present in communities where people live, work, and gather. Social determinants of health cover five key areas:

  1. Neighborhood and built environment
  2. Education access and quality
  3. Health care access and quality
  4. Economic stability
  5. Social and community contexts

While these conditions can affect young people’s sexual and reproductive health experiences and access to services in all communities, their effects may be amplified for young people in foster care. For example, young people in foster care may miss school-based sexual health education due to placement changes and removal from their family of origin before these conversations occur. Adults within the foster care system (e.g., caseworkers, group home staff, residential care staff, court appointed special advocates (CASAs)) and parents (biological, kinship, foster, adoptive) may vary in their comfort levels with directly and openly addressing sexual and reproductive health

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