It is important that all children and youth in the child welfare system—which includes those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) or gender-expansive—feel safe, supported and loved, especially through their childhood and adolescent years.
This year during National Foster Care Month, we continue to work to ensure that all children and youth can be fluid in how they describe and express their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. It’s also important to note that LGBTQ or gender-expansive and young people of color in foster care will often experience different outcomes than their peers.
CSSP’s getR.E.A.L initiative currently works to impact child welfare policy and practice to promote the healthy development of all children and youth. Many families, including those that provide foster homes for LGBTQ and gender-expansive youth, may not provide the supportive environment needed because of their religious and/or cultural beliefs. With the getR.E.A.L initiative, we continue to test out new ideas, employ new strategies and implement affirming policies in jurisdictions across the country to better support these youth.
As we move forward to build safe and thriving environments for all children that promote healthy development of sexual and gender identity and expression, we must remember that children grow to become their best selves when they are surrounded and supported by loving families.
Check out these CSSP resources that aims to improve the experiences of LGBTQ children and families in contact with the child welfare system or learn more about CSSP’s getR.E.A.L initiative.
Out of the Shadows: Supporting LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare System through Cross-System Collaboration
A Blueprint for Progress: A Policy Guide for Advocates Supporting LGBTQ Youth of Color in Child Welfare Systems
Safe Havens: Closing the Gap Between Recommended Practice and Reality for Transgender and Gender-Expansive Youth in Out-of-Home Care
Bridging the Language Gap in Child Welfare: Identifying and Supporting LGBTQ Youth who have Experienced Sexual Exploitation