New Initiative Launched to Help Find Permanent Families for Children in Foster Care

by HRC Staff

Human Rights Campaign's &quotAll Children-All Families&quot initiative will increase awareness and build competence among child welfare professionals working with GLBT adoptive families

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign Foundation today launched its latest initiative, "All Children - All Families," aimed at finding permanent families for foster children by promoting fairness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families. The initiative is releasing a new guide for adoption and foster care agencies titled "Promising Practices." The release of the guide coincides with the 2007 Child Welfare League of America's annual Adoption and Foster Care Conference, taking place in New Orleans through December 12. HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn and members of the "All Children - All Families" National Advisory Board are in New Orleans to present the guide to the hundreds of adoption and foster care professionals from across the nation.

"We must break down the barriers that stand in the way of children being placed with qualified GLBT parents who want to open their hearts and homes to these children," said Human Rights Campaign Family Project Director Ellen Kahn. "With this guidebook, adoption organizations nationwide can educate themselves and reach out to the nearly 2 million gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are interested in adoption."

Today there are more than half a million children in the U.S. foster care system, with at least 100,000 awaiting adoption by loving, permanent families. Agencies may purposefully or inadvertently close the door to qualified families through their practices. Few agencies recruit GLBT adoptive & foster parents, and many GLBT people feel unwelcome or discouraged. Similarly, members of the GLBT community may not be aware of the opportunities in domestic adoption and foster care, or they may not know of agencies that welcome their families. "All Children-All Families" will work to ensure that all qualified prospective parents who wish to open their homes and hearts to children and youth have the opportunity to do so, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The "Promising Practices" guide offers examples of effective practices for working with GLBT foster and adoptive parents. The guide features sample policies and materials, and also features tips from leaders of welcoming agencies, researchers in the field, and GLBT adoptive and foster parents. The guide also includes an organizational self-assessment to allow agencies to gauge their current policies and practices and receive guidance for improvement. The Human Rights Campaign will create a searchable public database of agencies that welcome GLBT families.

Several adoption agency directors have pledged to implement the "Promising Practices" guidelines within their own agencies. Recent research from the Williams Institute shows GLBT families are already raising about 65,500 adopted children, and 14,000 foster children - about 3 percent nationwide - are being cared for by gay and lesbian parents.

"The 'All Children - All Families' initiative is an important tool for achieving the goal we all share: finding permanent, loving families for children in the foster care system," said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and member of the AC-AF National Advisory Board. "We encourage agencies to engage in the process of becoming more competent in working with GLBT families, which the AC-AF Promising Practices Guide will help them to do, and the bottom line is that we believe more kids will get homes as a result."

Additional information on the "All Children - All Families" initiative and the HRC Foundation Family Project can be found online at

Other participants in the "All Children - All Families" initiative include: Bill Bettencourt (Senior Consultant, Pacific Region Family To Family initiative of the Annie E. Casey Foundation) Maris Blechner (Executive Director, Family Focus Adoption Services in Little Neck, New York) Michael Colberg (Psychotherapist and Child Welfare Advocate) Janice Goldwater (Founder and Executive Director, Adoptions Together in Silver Spring, Maryland) Jill Jacobs (Executive Director, Family Builders, in Oakland, California) John Levesque (Board of Directors, North American Council on Adoptable Children) Ernesto Loperena (Executive Director, New York Council on Adoptable Children) Gary Mallon (Professor and Child Welfare Researcher/Author, Hunter School of Social Work) Ann McCabe (Family Therapist and Child Welfare Consultant in Philadelphia) Nathan Monell (Executive Director, Foster Care Alumni of America) Toni Oliver (Founder and CEO, ROOTS Inc. in Atlanta) Dennis Patrick, (Professor, Eastern Michigan University) Adam Pertman (Executive Director Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute) Maria Quintanilla (Executive Director, Latino Family Institute in West Covina, California) Karey Scheyd (Family Recruitment Specialist) and Al Toney (Education & Diversity Consultant, A&K Consulting in Massachusetts), Diane Wagner(Division Chief, Adoptions and Permanency Resources Division ofCounty of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services).

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

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