Start Talking: Better Sexual and Reproductive Health for Children in Foster Care

The Fostering Network are working in partnership with The Sex Education Forum and funded by DHSC National Reproductive Health, Sexual Health and HIV Innovation Fund. This exciting new project aims to increase the knowledge, skills, and confidence of foster carers in supporting the children and young people you care for to have better sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

Relationship and sexual health guidance and support is particularly important for care experienced children and young people:

  • Nearly 80% of care experienced children and young people live with 55,000 foster families across the UK1 
  • 63% of care experienced and young people in foster care have suffered abuse or neglect and 38% show concerning emotional and behavioural needs2
  • care experienced and young people in foster care are much less likely to receive meaningful sex and relationships education (SRE) from their parents or carers than children living with their family of origin3
  • care experienced and young people in foster care are more likely to miss out on curriculum-based SRE, as well as health interventions and other school-based interventions to reduce teenage pregnancy3
  • in general care experienced and young people in foster care are sexually active at a younger age3, and are around three times more likely to be mothers by the age of 18
  • care experienced and young people in foster care show increased risk for poor sexual health outcomes, including acquisition of STIs4


The Start Talking project aims to develop an innovative and co-produced resource:

Our approach will build on the relationship skills and knowledge foster carers already have to support the children they foster with their health and wellbeing

  • We want to be guided by the expertise in sexual and reproductive health education and the needs and strengths of foster carers
  • We will take a developmental life-course approach promoting pro-active and frequent conversations between foster carers and children
  • We aim to develop a range of age related on-line digital resources to support carers to talk with young people in their care about relationships and sexual health education



We will co-create and co-refine content, with children and young people with care experience and foster carers and would like to find out a bit more about the experiences of foster carers and what sort of support foster carers would find helpful in this area. Please complete the Start Talking Survey


Focus groups

We would welcome foster carers who are members of The Fostering Network and care experienced young people aged 18 years plus to join us in our focus groups and work with us to develop the resources. If you would like to express an interest in these please email Naomi Sanderson, practice support administrator.

Our foster carer member focus groups are planned for:

Mondays, November 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th at 11AM to 12:30 PM via a zoom


Our care experienced focus groups are planned for:

Wednesdays November 17th, 24th and December 1st 5:00 to 6:00 PM via a zoom


Further information and references:

1The Fostering Network Fostering Statistics

2Department of Education statistics for Looked after Children

3Mezey, et al (2015), Developing and piloting a peer mentoring intervention to reduce teenage pregnancy in looked-after children and care leavers

4Ahrens, et al (2010), Laboratory-diagnosed sexually transmitted infections in former foster youth compared with peers. - Abstract - Europe PMC