Federal agency to support Lambda Legal/CWLA guidelines for LGBTQ youth in foster care

NEW YORK -- To ensure that all children in foster care are provided safe treatment, Lambda Legal and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) released "Recommended Practice Guidelines 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 guide includes national practice guidelines for state and local child welfare agencies to ensure safe and proper care consistent with the best interests LGBTQ children in the child welfare system.

"The single most important principle contained in the guidelines is that affirming the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression of LGBTQ youth in care protects young peoples' emotional safety and ensures positive outcomes," said Flor Bermudez, Lambda Legal's Youth in Out-of-Home Care staff attorney. "We are pleased that ACYF will make the Recommended Practice Guidelines available to every state child welfare agency in the country to help meet the needs of LGBTQ children."

"We know that child welfare agencies across the country welcome resources to improve the well-being of abused and neglected children," ACYF commissioner Bryan Samuels said. "These guidelines 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 in foster care and face a crisis of rejection, neglect and discrimination. The guidelines build on previous research and best practice standards developed during the last decade by child welfare, social work and civil rights experts. Lambda Legal and CWLA hope that state child welfare agencies will 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.

"We have compiled this best practices guide to give easy access to critical information for anyone who has an LGBTQ youth in their care," said Chris James-Brown, CEO at the Child Welfare League of America. "Everyone responsible for LGBTQ youth in child welfare systems, from foster parents to child welfare administrators, can use this resource to provide better care."

The Recommended Practices Guidelines give examples of the best practice 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 best practices in supporting transgender and gender-nonconforming youth. The guidelines also encourage child welfare systems to find ways to collect data to quantify outcomes for LGBTQ youth in care.

The Recommended Practices Guidelines are available HERE.

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