Post submitted by Rob Woronoff, member of the All Children All Families National Advisory Council
I recently delivered a training about working more effectively with LGBT foster and adoptive parents and youth to child welfare professionals in Hopkinton, Mass., in my capacity as a member of the All Children All Families (ACAF) National Advisory Council (NAC). The June training was sponsored by the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE), and several other agencies from Massachusetts and Rhode Island also sent their staff to participate.
ACAF is a program of the Human Rights Campaign Family Project designed to increase LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and help LGBT individuals learn about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents.
NAC member and trainer Toni Oliver also participated in the training and led discussion about writing effective home assessments of LGBT prospective foster and adoptive parents.
Participants in this training used a number of new exercises, videos, case studies and role-plays recently added to the ACAF training curriculum. Many of these new training components have been included to help child welfare professionals develop a better understanding of the experiences of LGBT parents and youth.
They were also the first to participate in the newly revised training module addressing the needs of LGBT foster youth. This part of the training is a daylong exploration built around the three primary pillars of the child welfare system: ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of youth in care. Participants were given a brief history of supportive services for LGBT foster youth by organizations including HRC, the Child Welfare League of America, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Family Acceptance Project, and Lambda Legal. They were also shown examples of the many resources available to help them better support LGBT youth.
The youth training module also explored the seemingly limitless terms LGBT young people often use to describe themselves, which can be challenging for many child welfare workers who have mastered terms like “LGBT” or “gender spectrum” but who may be unfamiliar with terms like “ace,” “cisgender,” and “spectraromantic.”
Through trainings like this one, we’re working to guarantee that when an LGBT individual interacts with the child welfare system, either as a parent or a young person, they are treated with the respect and caring they deserve.