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Post submitted by Jean-Phillipe Regis, HRC, Children, Youth & Families Program Senior Manager

On April 16, the HRC Foundation awarded Hands Across the Water (HATW) with the All Children - All Families Seal of Recognition for continued leadership in supporting and serving LGBTQ youth and families. The agency first achieved the seal in 2011 and has now successfully renewed its status. HRC’s Associate Regional Field Director Ryan Rowe was on site to celebrate the achievements of the dedicated staff that led HATW’s inclusion efforts.

“I’m sure each and every one of you knows that it takes a real commitment of time, resources and focus to make measurable improvements in practice,” said Rowe, addressing the nearly 100 attendees gathered to commemorate this milestone. “We applaud and honor you all for continuing your commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive practice.”

Founded in 1999 and based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, HATW is a fully-licensed child-placing agency that supports families in adoption, foster care, parent education and behavioral health services. HATW was the first agency in Michigan to earn the HRC Foundation’s Seal of Recognition by meeting All Children - All Families’ Benchmarks of LGBTQ Cultural Competency in 2011. Since then, they have worked diligently to exemplify leadership in LGBTQ cultural competence through inclusive and affirming policies and practice.

“We are incredibly proud to be recognized by HRC for the seventh year in a row as a leader in serving the LGBTQ community,” said Katie Page Sander, the agency’s director. “More than ever before, it is imperative that we loudly and proudly express our strongly-held values through our work in the child welfare community, which is inclusive of ALL children and families. We hope that our work in this area inspires more agencies in the field to pursue this honor.”

For more information about HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families Program, visit

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