• February 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 2

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The Associate Commissioner's Page

The following is the first installment in the new Associate Commissioner's Page series, featuring a monthly message from JooYeun Chang, the Associate Commissioner of the Children's Bureau. Each message will focus on the current CBX Spotlight theme and highlight the Bureau's work on the topic.

There are nearly 400,000 children in foster care in the United States and, while exact numbers are difficult to pinpoint, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are disproportionately represented in foster care. Estimates are that LGBTQ youth make up 5 to 10 percent of the foster care population. The actual percentage of LGBTQ youth in care may be higher, because children and youth may fear coming out due to rejection, harassment, or abuse.

The Children's Bureau is proud to support LGBTQ children and youth involved with child welfare through a range of activities, including raising public awareness and providing technical assistance, resource materials, and grants for LGBTQ-focused projects. In fiscal year 2010, we awarded a Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) grant to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to address barriers to permanency for LGBTQ children and youth through its RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Initiative. The initiative targets LGBTQ children and youth ages 7–16 who are currently in foster care in Los Angeles County, CA, including those who are gender nonconforming and gender-questioning. The target population also includes youth dually involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. RISE consists of three interventions:

  1. A survey of youth ages 12 and older on safety and well-being issues that gathers information from LGBTQ youth in foster care in order to assess their characteristics and service needs
  2. An outreach and relationship-building practice protocol that aims to create a supportive environment for youth, including LGBTQ competency training and coaching for staff
  3. Care Coordination teams for children and youth ages 7–16 that adapt the wraparound approach to include LGBTQ-competent family search and engagement strategies that reduce the risk of rejection and discrimination

Personal stories from youth involved with RISE were featured on the 2013 National Foster Care Month website:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/reallifestories/lgbtqyouth.cfm

A grantee profile for RISE is available on the Administration for Children and Families website:

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/rise_grantee_profile.pdf (38 KB)

Members of the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Network offer a variety of resources for child welfare and related professionals who work with LGBTQ youth, in addition to materials for youth and for LGBTQ families interested in becoming foster or adoptive parents. A list of these resources is provided in the article "T&TA Network Resources on LGBTQ Issues" in this issue of Children's Bureau Express.

The Children's Bureau remains committed to ensuring the safety, well-being, and permanence of all children in and transitioning out of foster care, regardless of his or her sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. We hope that you will join us this month and focus on the unique needs of this population and take steps to ensure that LGBTQ youth are seen and receive appropriate services and support.

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