HRC Takes Adoption and Foster Care Work to Next Level
October 21, 2013 by Ellen Kahn, Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program
Just over seven years ago HRC launched the All Children—All Families Project with the goal of removing barriers faced by prospective LGBT foster and adoptive parents. Since then 70 agencies have joined with ACAF to implement our recommended policies and practices; 45 of these agencies have earned HRC’s Seal of Recognition for achieving our ten benchmarks of cultural competency. With our All Children - All Families groundbreaking agency assessment tool, comprehensive training and one-on-one consultation services, agencies across the country are turning to HRC to improve their practice with LGBT families.
Today we are proud to announce that All Children—All Families is expanding to address policies and practices related to LGBT youth and families, taking a more comprehensive approach to LGBT practice improvement within child welfare.
Why is this Important?
At this very moment, over 400,000 children and youth are in foster care in the U.S. and more than 100,000 of these youth are awaiting placement with a new, permanent family.
A disproportionately high number of these young people in foster care are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning. The sad reality is that many have been abandoned by their families because they are LGBTQ.
LGBTQ youth continue to struggle as they enter the child welfare system where agency staff members lack the skills and knowledge to provide them with the services they need and deserve. They sometimes face abuse and hostility from their peers, and even worse, from the adults who are charged with caring for them. In one study, 100% of LGBTQ youth in group homes reported verbal harassment and 70% reported violence based on their LGBTQ status.
On top of this, these youth face longer waits in foster care than their non-LGBTQ peers because many adoptive and foster parents don’t consider welcoming an LGBTQ child into their home. In fact, the 2012 national survey by the Dave Thomas Foundation or Adoption found that less than half (47%) of prospective foster or adoptive parents are open to having a lesbian or gay youth placed with them.
That is why HRC is expanding our work with child welfare agencies to ensure they are providing the best services possible to LGBTQ youth. Our friend Bryan Samuels, former Commissioner of the Administration for Children and Families/Department of Health and Human Services, stated, “Once a young person who is LGBTQ enters the foster care system, his or her caseworker is an important link to support and safety. It is therefore critical that a young person’s caseworker has the capacity, understanding and willingness to support the child’s social and emotional development while in foster care.” We are positioned to make that a reality.
Our training curriculum now includes a new full-day module on “safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ youth in out of home care,” and we have solidified a cadre of highly skilled, certified trainers with deep expertise on this subject.
All participating agencies will be required to meet an expanded list of All Children – All Families Benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competency. These benchmarks include best practices related to serving both LGBT resource families and LGBTQ youth. After agencies meet the Benchmarks, they will be awarded the Seal of Recognition.
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