Lord Sheikh: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what system is in place to tackle the disproportionately high rate of teenage pregnancy among young people in foster care.
Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: We share concerns about England’s high rate of teenage pregnancies including among children in care. That is why this Government launched the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 1999, following a detailed report by the Social Exclusion Unit.
Between 1998 and 2007 we have achieved a 10.7 per cent fall in the under-18 conception rate and a 6.4 per cent fall in the under-16 rate, reversing the previous upward trend. Within the overall reduction in teenage conceptions, teenage births have fallen by 23.3 per cent over the same period.
Our strategy places a strong focus on targeted interventions with young people at greatest risk of teenage pregnancy, in particular looked-after children and care leavers. Government guidance to local areas on effective local teenage pregnancy strategies highlights the importance of training and support for foster carers in helping them talk to their foster children about sex and relationships. The CWDC’s Foster Care Training, Support and Development Standards, which set out the skills which all foster carers are expected to demonstrate, include sexual health promotion.
We are currently consulting on guidance on the health and well-being of looked-after children, which will be statutory for primary care trusts and strategic health authorities as well as on local authorities. This includes specific guidance relating to the prevention of teenage pregnancy.
While girls and young women in care are still far more likely to give birth than those not in care, there has been a welcome recent fall in the number of girls and young women who are mothers in the looked-after population (12 years old and older) from 360 in 2007 to 280 in 2008 (source: SSDA903 return on children looked after).