The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and a coalition of child welfare advocates and experts have joined to issue “Recommended Practices to Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living with HIV in Child Welfare Settings.” The Recommended Practices offer guidance to state and local child welfare agencies to ensure safe, appropriate care in the best interests of LGBTQ children in the child welfare system.
“We know that child welfare agencies across the country welcome resources to improve the well-being of abused and neglected children,” said ACYF Commissioner Bryan Samuels. “We are pleased to have a coalition of child welfare experts provide practical examples of practices that every child welfare agency can use to better meet the needs of the LGBTQ youth in their care. I would have found this resource incredibly helpful when I was a child welfare agency director.”
LGBTQ young people in out-of-home care continue to be overrepresented and face a crisis of rejection, neglect and discrimination. The recommended practices build on previous research and standards developed during the last decade by child welfare, social work and civil rights experts. State child welfare agencies can use them to increase their knowledge of LGBTQ issues, influence their programmatic decisions and priorities, and set higher expectations and performance standards for the services provided to LGBTQ young people in care.
The “Recommended Practices” provides examples in a range of areas, including: policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and HIV status; services that address family rejection; safe placement with foster or adoptive parents; access to appropriate medical and mental health care services for LGBTQ youth and youth at risk of or living with HIV; and recommendations to support transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. The recommended practices also encourage child welfare systems to collect data to quantify outcomes for LGBTQ youth in care.
Download the resource here.
CWLA is joined by American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law: Opening Doors for LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care Project; Diane E. Elze, PhD, MSW; Family Acceptance Project; Lambda Legal; Legal Services for Children; Gerald P. Mallon, DSW; Robin McHaelen, MSW; National Alliance to End Homelessness; National Center for Lesbian Rights; National Center for Transgender Equality; National Network for Youth; and Sylvia Rivera Law Project as co-authors on the publication.