All Children – All Families promotes LGBTQ inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies and formally recognizes those innovative agencies that are leading the field.
At the core of this work are the Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion listed below. The benchmarks are organized into seven main areas of inclusive policies and affirming practices that organizations should implement to best serve LGBTQ children, youth and families.
Participating agencies that meet specific benchmark requirements will be recognized in one of three tiers: Building Foundation for Inclusion; A Solid Foundation for Inclusion; and Innovative Inclusion.
The requirements for each tier are indicated in the text below in the following way:
- Building Foundation for Inclusion: Policy and practice areas in bold text.
- Solid Foundation for Inclusion: All policy and practice areas, except italicized text.
- Innovative Inclusion: All policy and practice areas including italicized text. (Note: While multiple examples of innovations are listed in practice areas 3-7, agencies must demonstrate only one in each area to meet the Innovative Tier)
Navigate to each of the seven policy and practice areas by clicking on the links here:
Note to CASAs: CASA affiliates participating in All Children - All Families will be assessed on CASA-specific benchmarks instead of “Parent Best Practices.” These CASA benchmarks are required for the Solid Tier. Click here for more information.
Note to Adoption Exchanges: Adoption Exchanges participating in All Children - All Families will be assess on Adoption Exchange-specific benchmarks instead of “Parent Best Practices” and “Youth Best Practices.” These Adoption Exchange benchmarks are required for the Solid Tier. Click here for more information.
Establishing written policies to protect LGBTQ clients and employees from discrimination is an important first step in building an organization’s foundation for LGBTQ inclusion. The non-discrimination benchmarks focus on three policies:
- a) Agency’s client non-discrimination policy is inclusive of “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and “gender expression” and communicated to staff and clients.
- b) Agency’s employment non-discrimination policy is inclusive of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
- c) Agency’s contract language includes explicit LGBTQ non-discrimination standards.
LGBTQ staff training is a core component of an organization’s efforts to create a culture that is inclusive and affirming of everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE). Staff training alone is not sufficient to achieve long-standing cultural change; however, when connected to policy changes, it can help give staff the skills and knowledge needed to translate policy into practice. The staff training benchmark has two components and the specific requirements for each depend on which Tier of Recognition an agency is striving to achieve:
- a) Agency meets minimum participation requirements for All Children - All Families Webinar Series.
- b) Agency completes an Ongoing Training Plan detailing the ways in which LGBTQ topics are integrated into its ongoing staff training efforts. This plan must meet minimum training length requirements for Innovative Tier.
3. Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
“Rolling out the welcome mat” for LGBTQ children, youth and families means moving an organization beyond nondiscrimination and taking concrete action to send an explicitly welcoming message. These benchmarks focus on LGBTQ inclusion in agency forms and other paperwork, visual cues within the agency and external messaging (such as on websites, brochures and social media).
- a) Agency forms use gender-neutral language (e.g., “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” rather than “Mother” and “Father”) where applicable.
- b) Agency forms provide the opportunity to indicate a gender other than “Male” or “Female.”
- c) Agency forms provide the opportunity to indicate a preferred/ chosen name that is different than a person’s legal name.
- d) Agency forms provide the opportunity to indicate the pronouns (e.g., she/her, he/him, they/them) by which a person would like to be addressed.
- e) Agency demonstrates other innovation in LGBTQ inclusion in forms and paperwork.
- f) Agency displays visual cues throughout common areas to communicate support and inclusion of LGBTQ clients and their families.
- g) Agency’s external communications (website, printed materials, etc.) explicitly and consistently reflect its commitment to working with and welcoming LGBTQ clients and their families.
- h) Agency uses social media to communicate its commitment to working with and welcoming LGBTQ clients and their families.
- i) Agency demonstrates other innovation in its LGBTQ-inclusive external communications.
4. Parent Best Practices
Organizations that serve foster parents, adoptive parents, kinship caregivers and other caring adults should review key practices to ensure that LGBTQ adults are welcomed and included. These benchmarks focus on practice areas such as LGBTQ parent recruitment efforts, LGBTQ inclusion in parent trainings and conducting affirming homestudies with LGBTQ applicants.
- a) Agency targets LGBTQ resource parents in recruitment efforts (e.g., using ads featuring same-sex couples or trans parents, attending LGBTQ events, partnering with LGBTQ community groups and engaging current LGBTQ resource families as ambassadors).
- b) Agency ensures LGBTQ parents feel included in parent trainings (e.g., trainers are prepared to deliver LGBTQrelated content and skilled in creating an inclusive space for LGBTQ parents).
- c) Agency’s parent trainings provide information on creating a safe and affirming environment for LGBTQ youth (e.g., agency LGBTQ youth policy, research on LGBTQ youth in care, affirming caregiver behaviors).
- d) Agency provides LGBTQ-inclusive ongoing support and education to existing resource parents and other caregivers.
- e) Agency provides staff with guidance on conducting LGBTQaffirming homestudies and assessments.
- f) Agency tracks data on the number of LGBTQ resource parents served (e.g., information on number of LGBTQ parents licensed and number of placements in LGBTQheaded homes).
- g) Agency identifies and utilizes a list of LGBTQ-competent referrals for outside services for LGBTQ families, parents and caregivers.
Innovations (at least one):
- a) Agency has developed a strategic plan for its LGBTQ parent recruitment efforts focused on maximizing results and continual improvement
- b) Agency has engaged LGBTQ parents in innovative ways (e.g., parent mentoring, advocacy efforts, etc.).
- c) Agency demonstrates other innovative practice(s) with LGBTQ parents and caregivers.
5. Youth Best Practices
Organizations working to improve and create affirming practices with LGBTQ youth need to translate this commitment into a thorough scan of the agency environment and all areas of service provision. Too often LGBTQ youth face barriers due to institutional structures and policies rooted in anti-LGBTQ bias and/or assumptions that fail to recognize youth with diverse SOGIE. The policy and practice areas specific to youth services focus on removing the most common barriers faced by LGBTQ youth to ensure they are safe, affirmed and supported to achieve permanency.permanency.
- a) Agency provides youth in care with an LGBTQ-inclusive “Bill of Rights” or similar information on their rights while in out-of home care.
- b) Agency provides staff with guidance on assessing resource parents’ capacity to provide safe and affirming homes for LGBTQ youth.
- c) Agency provides staff with guidance on creating LGBTQinclusive safety plans for youth, including considerations of the unique risk factors for youth with diverse SOGIE at all points in the placement process.
- d) Agency has policy in place to enforce trans-affirming placements in sex-separated facilities to ensure placement decisions affirm the child’s gender identity, are made based on the safety and well-being of the young person and are not based on the child’s sex assigned at birth.
- e) Agency identifies and utilizes a list of LGBTQ-competent referrals for outside services for LGBTQ youth.
Innovations (at least one):
- a) Agency provides staff with guidance on discussing SOGIE with young people.
- b) Agency has a written policy in place that prohibits conversion therapy for youth in care.
- c) Agency has implemented a gender-neutral dress code policy that ensures young people can authentically express their gender through clothing styles.
- d) Agency has conducted a review of services to ensure that LGBTQ youth receive equitable services when compared to their non-LGBTQ counterparts.
- e) Agency engages LGBTQ youth in care in its efforts to change policy and practice (e.g., youth focus groups, taskforces and youth-led initiatives).
- f) Agency provides specialized programs/interventions for LGBTQ youth in care.
- g) Agency demonstrates other innovative practice(s) with LGBTQ youth.
- h) CASA tracks data on the number of LGBTQ volunteers served (e.g., information on number of LGBTQ volunteers approved and number of placements, etc.).
- i) CASA identifies and utilizes a list of LGBTQ-competent referrals for outside services for volunteers.
6. Sustainability & Capacity Building
Transforming an organization’s culture to ensure all stakeholders are welcomed and affirmed regardless of their SOGIE is hard work that can take years. Staff turnover, competing priorities and limited resources are among the many challenges that can get in the way of sustainable change. These policy and practice areas focus on the strategies that help support and build internal capacity for long-term and sustainable LGBTQ inclusion efforts.
- Agency’s leadership supports LGBTQ inclusion efforts (e.g., leadership “buy in” is clear through board/senior leadership communications on the importance of the work and action to hold stakeholders accountable). (Note: Participation in an Executive Briefing by at least one senior leader is required of all ACAF participants.)
- b) Agency takes a team-based approach to its LGBTQ inclusion efforts (e.g., forming an LGBTQ committee to lead policy and practice review and changes).
Innovations (at least one):
- a) Agency has an LGBTQ staff advocate who is identified to all staff and clients and is charged with resource collection and dissemination, advocacy, support and intervention specifically for LGBTQ clients.
- b) Agency builds relationships with and engages local LGBTQ experts in its LGBTQ inclusion efforts.
- c) Agency has formalized its process for SOGIE data collection from youth and/or adult clients, including the collection, tracking and analysis of the data for quality improvement work.
- d) Agency conducts LGBTQ-specific client feedback surveys to measure the impact of its LGBTQ inclusion efforts on the experiences of children, youth and families served.
- e) Agency conducts LGBTQ-specific staff surveys to measure current agency climate and the knowledge, skills and attitudes related to LGBTQ inclusion.
- f) Agency has developed LGBTQ expertise among its internal staff trainers through a training of trainers or other effort.
- g) Agency has implemented policies and benefits to recruit and retain LGBTQ employees (e.g., inclusive health insurance benefits, gender transition guidelines, and targeted staff hiring and recruitment efforts).
- h) Agency demonstrates other innovative practice(s) to ensure LGBTQ inclusion efforts are sustainable.
7. Leadership & Innovation
Organizations that have established a solid foundation for LGBTQ inclusion within their own walls can lead the broader child welfare community forward in this area by sharing their lessons learned. This practice area focuses on the ways in which agencies can serve as leaders on the local, state and national levels.
- a) Agency serves as a leader in LGBTQ-inclusive practices among its partner agencies (e.g., organizing trainings or events, leading an LGBTQ taskforce, etc.).
- b) Agency has participated in LGBTQ-related public education events (e.g., panel discussion at a university, radio or television appearances, etc.).
- c) Agency has engaged in pro-LGBTQ public policy advocacy (e.g., submitting written or oral testimony related to legislation, writing an op-ed, participating in a lobby day, etc.).
- d) Agency demonstrates other innovative forms of leadership.