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Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy and Improving Preparation for Parenthood for Care-Experienced Young People

A comprehensive review of the literature and critical appraisal of intervention studies. Dr Debbie Fallon & Professor Karen Broadhurst of the Universities of Manchester and Lancaster on behalf of Coram.

It is now widely acknowledged that care-experienced children and young people are at increased risk of poor life outcomes including low educational attainment, unemployment, homelessness, and poor physical and mental health when compared to peers who have not spent time in a care setting. They are also at heightened risk of teenage pregnancy, which significantly increases the likelihood that these disadvantages will be transferred to the next generation. The latter issue is the subject of this research review, which aims to establish the scope and quality of published literature on the topics of pregnancy and parenthood for this population of young people, including evaluative evidence from intervention studies.

Although there is growing awareness of the causes and consequences of early childbearing for young people who are care-experienced, our engagement with the research literature found many calls to action but scant reporting of interventions developed to address the issue. We have therefore approached this review with a broad lens. Part one provides a comprehensive overview of published work on key issues in this area including the perceived pathways to pregnancy, experiences of pregnancy and parenthood, and experiences of sexual health and relationships education. Part two provides a critical appraisal of a small body of published studies that describe the content and outcomes of intervention studies.

Throughout, our overarching interest has been to understand the reasons why care-experienced children and young people are at heightened risk of early and often unplanned transition to parenthood, as well as to garner insights about promising interventions that may deliver better outcomes for this social group. However, as we conclude from this review, progress towards tried and tested, preventative and empowering solutions for careexperienced youth is slow as an international trend.

New developments are in progress as outlined in sections of this report, but far more investment is needed to build on promising new directions and ensure their translation into effective evidenceinformed practices that deliver better outcomes for children and young people in and leaving care.