• February 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 2

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CSSP's Get R.E.A.L. Initiative

Studies show that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth involved in the child welfare system generally have poorer outcomes than their peers. These youth often come into contact with child welfare as a direct result of the maltreatment and rejection they received from family and community because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, there is little information about the prevalence of LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system, which hinders the system's ability to provide needed services and improve outcomes for this at-risk population.

A new initiative by the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP)—get R.E.A.L. (Recognize. Engage, Affirm. Love.)—was designed to address the challenges affecting LGBTQ youth in child welfare settings; to transform child welfare policy and practice to more effectively serve this population; and to ensure that healthy sexual development and gender expression are part of the framework that child welfare agencies use to promote the healthy development of all children and youth.

The get R.E.A.L. project focuses on the following components:

  • Demonstrating the effectiveness of the Guidelines for Managing Information Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression and Identity of Children in Child Welfare Systems, a publication by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Family Builders, Legal Services for Children, and CSSP that provides a template for service providers that can be used to manage youth's personal information related to sexual orientation and gender identity/expression
  • Developing a policy and practice model to address healthy sexual and gender identity for LGBTQ youth in child welfare and other service systems
  • Creating a network of national organizations committed to improving the well-being of LGBTQ youth in child welfare as a means of information-sharing and advocacy
  • Delivering technical assistance to child welfare agencies that wish to use the guidelines noted above to implement systems change and improve outcomes for all youth in the area of healthy sexual and identity development

To read more about the get R.E.A.L. initiative, visit the CSSP website:


Related Items

As part of the get R.E.A.L. initiative, CSSP also links to State Policies Concerning LGBTQ Youth. Current as of September 2013, this document provides a comprehensive, State-by-State look at the policies affecting LGBTQ youth. Areas addressed include public accommodations, social services (general), child welfare (specific services and programs), foster care (including child care centers, housing, and training), juvenile detention/services, school and educational facilities, and social worker guidelines.

Access the publication on the CSSP website:

http://www.cssp.org/reform/child-welfare/get-real/State-Policies-Concerning-LGBTQ-Youth-9.25.pdf (2 MB)

Children's Bureau Express featured Guidelines for Managing Information Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression and Identity of Children in Child Welfare Systems in the June 2013 issue:



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