Child Trends
December 10, 2012

Teaching Healthy Relationships to Youth in Foster Care

Research suggests that having the skills to manage intimate partner relationships can help youth make better decisions related to school, employment, pregnancy prevention, and establishing strong, constructive relationships. Growing attention is being paid to whether improving relationship education for youth currently in foster care can help improve their outcomes.


To explore this topic further, Child Trends conducted a research and evaluation review, Putting Youth Relationship Education on the Child Welfare Agenda: Findings from a Research and Evaluation Review.  This review focused on relationship education for youth in foster care.  An Executive Summary is also available.    

Among the findings: 

  • No relationship education programs exist that specifically target youth in foster care and have been rigorously evaluated. 
  •  A number of relationship education programs exist that serve other vulnerable populations of youth, and some have been found to be effective through the use of rigorous evaluations.  Lessons learned from programs and evaluations of these programs for other populations can be used to help develop effective interventions for youth in foster care.  
  • Relationship education programs that address the needs of youth in foster care and other highly vulnerable populations need to be developed and brought to a stage where they can be evaluated rigorously.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach to delivering relationship education to youth.  Based on our understanding of the program needs of youth in foster care, combined with recommendations provided by relationship education experts, program practitioners, youth, and government leaders about how best to serve youth in foster care, we suggest a tiered approach to program services, where relationship education services are integrated into existing services or combined with related interventions such as teen pregnancy prevention or youth development programs.    



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