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Evaluation of a sexual health training for child welfare caseworkers

Katie Massey Combs, MSW, MSPH, University of Denver

Elevated rates of teen pregnancy and parenting among youth in foster care (YFC) are well documented. Traditional prevention efforts for teen pregnancy utilize parents, schools, and community-based centers to intervene with youth directly or to support a system in which youth are nested. However, for YFC, intervening through these traditional systems is problematic, as they often experience interruptions in relationships with their schools, families, and communities. Training child welfare caseworkers to provide sexual health information and resources is recommended throughout the extant literature as a pressing need in efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy among YFC. However, few child welfare agencies offer such training, and little is known about the efficacy of training in this area or the extent to which conversations about sexual/reproductive health already occur between caseworkers and youth. This quasi-experimental study (N = 230) will examine the efficacy of a sexual health training for caseworkers by comparing the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of those who participate in the training (n = 115) to those who participate in other (non-sexual health) trainings through the Colorado Child Welfare Training System (n = 115). Baseline and three-month follow-up data will be collected from participants to assess how training influences caseworkers' knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding discussing sexual health issues with YFC.


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