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Paper

Pregnant pathways

abstract

This presentation is based on a nationally funded study of young women exiting care and those receiving "Street Youth" services in Toronto, Canada. It examined the incidence of pregnancies and births, and the maltreatment and child welfare service histories in these two groups to support a more evidence-based approach to improving transition services.

Findings were collected from 30 crown wards and 75 'service-connected' youth, 16 to 21 years old. Standardized and study-developed measures assessing personal characteristics, life experiences and environmental challenges related to the transition to adulthood were used in a semi-structured interview process. Forty-three percent of the young women contacted through "Street Services" had been in care for some time, 24% had been crown wards. These youth had experienced more severe forms of physical and sexual abuse. Forty three per cent of the crown wards and 60% of the other youth reported a pregnancy.

The themes to be highlighted in this workshop relate to the higher incidence of pregnancies and births compared to the same age group in the general population, the service continuum from child welfare to "Street Youth" services", and implications for generating positive pathways from care. International variations in solutions to this higher incidence of pregnancies and births according to political, ecological and personal gender based solutions will be highlighted. A continued emphasis on "preparing youth for independence" appears to be weakly linked with the realities of these young women. Alternative approaches to building social networks and inclusion will be promoted.

 Contact details

Bruce Leslie, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto, 26 Maitland Street, Toronto M4Y 1C6, Canada. Email: bleslie@ccas.toronto.on.ca

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