Adolescent Parents in the First Wave of the National Youth in Transition Database

Svetlana Shpiegel, Michele Cascardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Adolescent parenthood occurs with relative frequency among youth in the foster care system. Few studies describe the characteristics of adolescent parents in foster care, or compare male and female parents, particularly using large, national samples. The present study used data from the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD; N = 15,601) to document the number of foster youth who had children at age 17 years, the factors associated with adolescent parenthood, and the differences between male and female parents on general functioning indicators and use of Chafee services. Results revealed that 4% of males and 10% of females in the NYTD sample had children. Multivariate analyses indicated that for males and females alike, non-White race and Hispanic ethnicity were associated with increased likelihood of childbirth. Among males, the multivariate odds of being a parent increased substantially if they had a history of homelessness, substance abuse referral, or incarceration. Among females, only a history of incarceration was significantly associated with parenthood. Receiving Chafee-funded services was not related to either male or female parenthood. These findings highlight the high rates of adolescent parenthood among youth in foster care, particularly if other risk factors are also present. Practice implications and future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-298
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Public Child Welfare
Issue number3
StatePublished - 27 May 2015


  • adolescents
  • foster care
  • gender
  • parenthood


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