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March 2023Vol. 24, No. 2Podcast Discusses the Use of SOGIE Data in Improving Child Welfare Outcomes

When working to improve program outcomes, it is important for child welfare agencies to collect and use SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression) data to gain a more in-depth understanding of the children, youth, and families they serve. The James Bell Associates podcast episode “Understanding the Importance of SOGIE Data: Collecting Data on SOGIE in Child Welfare, Episode 1” discusses the potential benefits of intentionally and safely engaging in conversations with youth about their SOGIE. The episode features Angela Weeks, D.B.A., director of the National SOGIE Center, and Elliott Hinkle, B.A., P.S.S., national young adult consultant at the Capacity Building Center for States. They share their unique first-hand experiences with the child welfare system and how their experiences could have been different if an agency had asked about their SOGIE. They provide tips on how professionals and LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, or other gender or sexual identity) allies can create gracious environments for these types of conversations to occur.

The episode talks about two critical conversations that need to happen with youth in the program regarding their SOGIE. These discussions can help to assist youth in feeling safe, validated, and respected while also empowering them to have autonomy over their own SOGIE:

  • An honest conversation about the people in the youth’s life who are aware of the youth’s SOGIE, if there are any concerns about someone finding out, and mutually defined circumstances concerning who the caseworker can share this data with
  • A privacy-planning conversation that has a goal of determining ways to protect the youth’s privacy, which may include a need to find creative solutions, especially regarding the access of case notes and information on databases

The facilitators place an emphasis on using the correct pronouns when addressing youth in the program, which is a crucial part of acknowledging and respecting their SOGIE. The episode suggests that pronouns be included in introductions between individuals. Other suggestions for when to include pronouns include the following:

  • Bios (e.g., social media, LinkedIn)
  • Email signatures
  • Name on an online meeting platform (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams)

To learn more, view the webinar,
“Understanding the Importance of SOGIE Data: Collecting Data on SOGIE in Child Welfare, Episode 1.”