by Madeleine Roberts •
Agencies working with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s All Children-All Families program serve more than 1 million clients annually, including children in foster care and prospective foster and adoptive parents
Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new report, 2021 Change-Makers, highlighting the HRC Foundation All Children-All Families (ACAF) program’s partnership with 119 organizations -- a 19% increase in participation from last year -- working to improve the services they provide to the LGBTQ+ community, including children in foster care, 1 in 3 of whom are LGBTQ+, and prospective foster and adoptive parents. These organizations serve more than 1 million clients annually in 35 states and employ more than 24,000 employees.
The release comes at a time when many have been sounding the alarm about the particular risks foster youth face due to COVID-19. LGBTQ+ inclusion work in foster care systems could not be more important. Studies have shown us that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care, and that child welfare systems must do more to ensure that the trauma of foster care, where LGBTQ youth already face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes, is never compounded by that caused by unsafe and non-affirming foster homes:
Approximately 1 out of every 3 youth in foster care is LGBTQ+
LGBTQ+ youth report higher rates of mistreatment while in care
LGBTQ+ youth report more frequent placement disruptions
LGBTQ+ youth report a higher likelihood of being placed in congregate care settings
The agencies featured in this report conducted an internal self-assessment, provided professional development to staff and implemented ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion,” which track policy and practice changes within agencies. The 2021 Change-Makers report features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the progress agencies have made toward becoming fully welcoming to their LGBTQ+ clients. With 32 new participants this year, ACAF also expands the program’s reach into six new states -- Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and North Carolina -- and the District of Columbia for the first time. 92% of participants met a tier of recognition, and 14 of the returning organizations advanced to a higher tier of recognition.
Innovative Inclusion: 44 organizations met all 25 applicable criteria and are going beyond to innovate their services for LGBTQ+ youth and families
Solid Foundation for Inclusion: 40 organizations met all 25 applicable policy and practice criteria for LGBTQ+ inclusion
Building Foundation for Inclusion: 25 organizations met foundational criteria, including non-discrimination protections
The report features profiles of four child welfare organizations that are setting the bar for LGBTQ+ inclusion while adapting to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to calls for an end to systemic racism -- including in child welfare: Vista Del Mar in California; Extraordinary Families in California; Texas Casa in Texas; and 360 Youth Services in Illinois. The report also features interviews with individuals who have been impacted by LGBTQ+-inclusive services, including: Manuel Padilla, a foster parent in Colorado; and Victoria, a former youth in care and now trainer at Lawrence Hall in Illinois.
Since 2007, hundreds of child welfare agencies across the U.S. have used ACAF’s resources to enhance their efforts to achieve safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth and families. Read the full report here.
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