Today begins HRC’s annual celebration of National Foster Care Month, a nationwide effort to bring awareness to the more than 430,000 children and youth in foster care.
This year, the national campaign is a call to action for us all: “It's a time to recognize that we each can play a part in enhancing the lives of children and youth in foster care. Find resources and information to help ensure that their future is bright.”
HRC’s All Children - All Families project is launching its #FosterEquality campaign in partnership with FosterClub to spread awareness of the experiences of LGBTQ youth in foster care again this year. The campaign will include results from a recent survey conducted by the two organizations, which found that 71% of respondents (LGBTQ people with experiences in foster care) reported not receiving equal and inclusive treatment from staff with regard to their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Furthermore, only 30% of respondents reported feeling safe disclosing their sexual orientation while in care.
This month, HRC will also tell the stories of LGBTQ young adult leaders who have experiences in foster care. Stories like that of one survey respondent in Arkansas who wrote about her experiences coming out as lesbian to her foster parents:
“I was terrified I would be moved from my foster home if my foster parents found out. My foster mom ended up figuring it out and asked me,” she said. “I lied at first, but she left it alone. Then, a few days later, she asked me again and I admitted to it. She asked why I lied, and I broke down crying and told her I was scared her and dad would kick me out. She didn't, and now they're my mom and dad.”
Here are some tips for supporting LGBTQ youth in foster care:
- Read about foster parenting and the experiences of LGBTQ youth in foster care: Are there ways you can support young people in your community? As you contemplate becoming a foster parent and opening your home to a young person in need, check out "Is Foster Parenting For You?" and "How Can I Find an LGBTQ-Friendly Adoption or Foster Care Agency?".
- Research opportunities to become a mentor to local foster care youth.
- Watch these heartwarming stories on why foster care is so important.
Against the backdrop of National Foster Care Month, HRC and our partners are fighting back against harmful child welfare-related legislation in states like Tennessee. These discriminatory bills will exacerbate the challenges LGBTQ young people face in care and further restrict the pool of prospective parents, making it harder for all children to find their forever families.
Stay tuned to hrc.org/blog and help us share the stories of youth in care throughout the month.
Learn more about All Children–All Families’ work to promote LGBTQ cultural competency in adoption and foster care at hrc.org/acaf. Want to stay up-to-date on All Children - All Families resources and activities? Subscribe to “Field Forward,” the program’s monthly e-newsletter at hrc.im/field-forward.