HHS Commissioner on Children, Youth and Families Joins HRC, Child Welfare Leaders, and LGBT Families

by HRC Staff

Adoption Forum Serves as Call to Action for Child Welfare Agencies to include LGBT Families in efforts to find Permanent Families for Children and Youth in Foster Care

WASHINGTON – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families Bryan Samuels, is joining the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, LGBT families, and representatives from area child welfare agencies, for an adoption forum on Wednesday November 30, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to recognize the close of National Adoption Month, and to call on child welfare professionals to include LGBT families, year-round, in their efforts to expand the pool of families for foster youth.  A new video by the HRC Family Project on LGBT adoption will be premiered at the forum.  The event will stream live at www.hrc.org/adoptionforum.  HRC has celebrated adoptive families throughout National Adoption Month and is offering a wealth of resources related to adoption and other issues important to LGBT families at www.hrc.org/issues/adoption

“As we end National Adoption Month, the work of finding permanent families for children and youth continues—it’s everyday work for child welfare professionals,” said Ellen Kahn, HRC Family Project Director and a professional social worker.  “Today we are recognizing several public agencies that have expanded their efforts to find families by reaching out to the LGBT community, a largely untapped resource. By partnering with HRC’s ACAF, these agencies have improved their practice with LGBT families and as a result are seeing an increase in foster and adoptive parents.”

This month, HRC issued All Children-All Families Seals of Recognition to Alameda County, CA, and to the state of New Jersey’s Resource Family Division, which join Los Angeles County as the only public social services agencies to earn the seal for their success in implementing the ACAF policies and practices.  HRC also issued the ACAF Seal of Recognition to Forever Families Through Adoption, a New York- and Connecticut-authorized adoption placement agency and resource center in Rye Brook, New York.  Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth  and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will join several of these agency leaders, and foster/adoptive families, to discuss this initiative and to feature a new video about this work.  

“We have more than 100,000 children in foster care in the United States waiting for a permanent family. Child welfare systems with responsibilities for finding potential parents now have resources through HRC’s All Children-All Families to reach out to caring and competent families in the LGBT community,” said Commissioner Bryan Samuels.

HRC has created a resource center for families considering adoption at www.hrc.org/issues/adoption with information about adoption agencies that work with LGBT families, answers to frequently asked questions about adoption and foster care, a video montage called Gay Parents Speak, featuring real parents telling their stories of adopting and loving children, and links to related programs and organizations.

The “All Children – All Families” initiative, launched in 2007, promotes policies and practices that welcome LGBT foster and adoptive parents.  The program seeks to enhance LGBT cultural competence among child welfare professionals and educate LGBT people about opportunities to become foster or adoptive parents to waiting children.  To date, ACAF has 50 participating agencies across the country, and has awarded 16 seals of recognition. In September HRC launched a “50 state strategy,” with the goal of securing at least one ACAF-recognized adoption agency dedicated to working with LGBT families in every state.   More information about the initiative can be found at www.hrc.org/acaf.

WHAT:           HRC National Adoption Month Adoption Forum

WHEN:          Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE:         Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036
                       and streamed live at www.hrc.org/adoptionforum.

WHO:             Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
                       Local Child Welfare Practitioners                      
                       Ellen Kahn, HRC Family Project Director
                       LGBT Families

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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