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July/August 2022Vol. 23, No. 6Spotlight on LGBTQ+ Youth Involved With Child Welfare

This edition of CBX features resources centered on youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other diverse identity (LGBTQ+) and are involved with child welfare, the challenges they face, and how to support them. Read a message from Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg about the importance of fighting for our individual freedom. We also feature a special article in the News From the Children's Bureau section by a child advocate about his experiences in a Ukrainian orphanage and the obstacles facing Ukrainian children and youth waiting to be adopted. This issue also includes valuable resources for professionals and the families they serve.

LGBTQ+ youth smiling and laughing together

Issue Spotlight

  • What Is Known About the LGBTQ Perspective in Child Welfare Services

    What Is Known About the LGBTQ Perspective in Child Welfare Services

    Although youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) are overrepresented in out-of-home care, there is a lack of research on LGBTQ perspectives on child welfare services. The journal Child and Family Social Work published a scoping review examining existing research on child welfare services for LGBTQ youth, their caregivers, and foster parents. The researchers used the following two questions to guide their research:

    • What is known about the practices of child welfare services toward LGBTQ youth and caregivers?
    • What is known about LGBTQ foster parents?
    The studies in the review were classified using three main themes:
    • The experiences, prevalence, and outcomes of LGBTQ youth who come into contact with child welfare   
    • The perspectives of LGBTQ foster parents and foster caregivers of youth in care who are LGBTQ
    • Child welfare practice in an LGBTQ perspective
    The article summarizes the findings from the reviewed studies and how they relate to the identified themes. It also identifies gaps in the literature, such as the studies being predominantly conducted in more accepting countries and consisting of qualitative interview studies. These findings can guide the planning and commissioning of future research and practice, including identifying areas where change can be seen and good practices have been identified as well as areas for improvement.

  • Discriminatory Transgender Health Bills Have Critical Consequences for Youth

    Discriminatory Transgender Health Bills Have Critical Consequences for Youth

    Child Trends published a brief that provides the context, definitions, and benefits of gender-affirming care as well as how anti-LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning) health policies harm LGBTQ+ youth. Young people are increasingly expressing gender identities that are different than the genders they were assigned at birth. At the same time, several states are passing discriminatory laws that deny access to gender-affirming care or criminalizing adults that facilitate it. Having access to gender-affirming care has been proven to be beneficial, while preventing access leads to poor mental and physical health outcomes.

    Gender-affirming care is developmentally dependent and appropriate and can include name, pronoun, and identification card changes. For older adolescents, it may include, after careful consideration, puberty blockers and supportive hormone therapy. When transgender youth are supported in their identities, they have outcomes–including for mental health and academics—more in line with their cisgender peers. When health care aimed at LGBTQ+ youth is made inaccessible or criminalized, it can increase youth's overall risk of experiencing violence and poorer health outcomes.

    The brief also provides recommendations that policymakers can use to create gender-affirming policies. Child welfare and related professionals on all levels should recognize the importance of gender-affirming care and understand that it is a necessary, medically indicated treatment. Policies should focus on ensuring and protecting transgender youth's access to gender-affirming care.

    For full definitions, recommendations, and resources, read Discriminatory Transgender Health Bills Have Critical Consequences for Youth.


  • System Involvement Among LBQ Girls and Women

    System Involvement Among LBQ Girls and Women

    The Williams Institute at the University of California School of Law released a factsheet that examines disproportionality in the foster care and criminal justice systems for lesbian, bisexual, and queer (LBQ) girls and women. The factsheet reviews data from multiple studies. The research shows that more than four times as many LBQ girls (cisgender and transgender) in foster care are American Indian or Black than in the general population of sexual minority girls. Research also shows that the percentage of incarcerated girls and women who are LBQ is between 3 and 10 times higher, respectively, than the proportion of LBQ girls and women in the general population and that the majority of LBQ girls and women who are incarcerated are people of color. The factsheet noted that there are not sufficient population-level data to create accurate estimates of the transgender girl and women population in the criminal justice system.

    The authors note how dual-involved youth require tailored services that address the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexual orientation and that more research and policy attention should be focused on this population. 

    To see the full discussion as well as graphs, methodologies, and more, read the factsheet, System Involvement Among LBQ Girls and Women.

  • The Crux of Individual Freedom

    The Crux of Individual Freedom

    Written by Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

    We entered the month of June in full celebration mode. All around the country, we acknowledged and celebrated Juneteenth, the commemoration of the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in this country. This was only the first anniversary of Juneteenth as a federal holiday; as old as Juneteenth is for the African American community, its observance by this nation is still new. Juneteenth is all about freedom. We also celebrated LGBTQI+ Pride. June is our annual opportunity to embrace our LGBTQI+ and gender nonconforming identities and our allyship with the LGBTQI+ community. There were rainbows everywhere! Pride was born out of agitation and a refusal to concede. Pride is all about freedom. We entered June with maximum joy. It found us living but left us longing.

    The crux of individual freedom is that in this country, we live freely, publicly, but only as long as we have been given the permission to do so. We have to fight hard for each of our freedoms; historically, for some of us, they are parceled out piece by piece. The battles are on record.   Individual freedom most certainly is not free. Toward the end of the month, we were reminded about the fragility of our individual freedom.  

    On the same day that the Senate passed gun control legislation intended to keep our society safer, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down a century-old New York law, which required gun seekers to show "proper cause" for carrying a gun outside of the home. The law was intended to keep residents safer. SCOTUS cited the constitutional right to bear arms and opined that this freedom should be enjoyed without interference. Many argue the constitutional right to bear arms is about individual freedom, while others ask, "What about my freedom to live life safely and free from gun violence?" Individual freedom is multifaceted and complex. 

    A few days later, SCOTUS struck down Roe vs. Wade, a law that gave pregnant people the right to seek abortion health care. This is also about individual freedom—the freedom to choose or not choose to become a parent. Battles were fought and won 50 years ago to achieve that freedom. SCOTUS demonstrated swiftly that the individual freedom we may enjoy today, with permission, can be seized overnight. In this country of over 330 million, 5 people aptly exhibited their power to destroy an individual freedom.

    The crux of individual freedom is that it is not fixed, and it is not free. Individual freedom is complex. We may have different ideas about what freedom is and how it should manifest. Your individual freedom might make me feel unsafe. My individual freedom may run contrary to your personal sensibilities. In this country, we have the right to fight for our individual freedom. The stakes are high so the battles will be fought, because the pursuit of individual freedom is the pearl in the oyster. Freedom is at the core of it all, for each of us.

  • Proceedings From a Workshop on Reducing Inequalities for LGBTQ Adolescents

    Proceedings From a Workshop on Reducing Inequalities for LGBTQ Adolescents

    The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's Board on Children, Youth, and Families held a workshop called "Reducing Inequalities Between LGBTQ Adolescents and Cisgender, Heterosexual Adolescents" to better understand the inequalities facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth as well as explore promising interventions to address them. The workshop's planning committee, which included experts from the fields of sociology, medicine, public health, psychology, social work, policy, and direct-service provision, sought input from professionals and practitioners whose daily and lived experience is in the service of LGBTQ adolescents as well as from LGBTQ youth of color about their perspectives, lives, and recommendations. The document acknowledges and addresses the intersectional nature of LGBTQ youth's lives, which means that each individual has multiple overlapping and interacting identities that include their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and abilities, which all affect their experiences within society. The published proceedings of the workshop detail outcomes and interventions for LGBTQ youth as well as interventions for personal, justice, and care systems; for families and communities; regarding mental, emotional, and physical health; and in education.

    The percentage of the population who identifies as LGBTQ has risen, and, within each racial and ethnic group, 17 to 31 percent of youth identify as LGBTQ. Research has not kept pace with the increase, nor has it generally been inclusive and racially or culturally sensitive. The document notes that researchers and policymakers can improve their work by asking themselves who they have failed to include throughout the process and by examining if they are approaching populations with a holistic mindset—that is, that the population is multifaceted and includes unique needs from multiple demographics. It is critical to consider how policies will benefit or disadvantage different LGBTQ youth depending on their racial or ethnic backgrounds and their involvement in any other systems.

    Explore the proceedings to learn more about intersectionality and LGBTQ youth as well as detailed examples of interventions to help support LGBTQ youth.

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News From the Children's Bureau

In this section, find the latest news, resources, and publications from the Administration for Children and Families, the Children's Bureau, and other offices within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as a listing of the latest additions to the Children's Bureau website.

  • Information Memorandum Provides Guidance for Title IV-B and IV-E Agencies Serving LGBTQI+ Children and Youth

    Information Memorandum Provides Guidance for Title IV-B and IV-E Agencies Serving LGBTQI+ Children and Youth

    Many youth involved with child welfare who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, or intersex (LGBTQI+) face additional challenges compared with their peers who do not, making them more vulnerable to negative outcomes. LGBTQI+ youth often have to endure family rejection, neglect, exploitation, and hostility. Transgender youth can face the additional stress of being denied access to affirming medical care, sometimes as a result of intentional systemic barriers.

    The Children's Bureau released an Information Memorandum (IM) to provide guidance to title IV-B and IV-E agencies about the way they serve LGBTQI+ children and youth involved with child welfare. The IM also provides information to agencies about the provisions in titles IV-B and IV-E that can be used to help guide their work in creating plans and providing services to LGBTQI+ youth in care.

    Read the IM to learn more.
  • Child Advocate Speaks About Ukrainian Orphanage Experience and the Future for Orphans

    Child Advocate Speaks About Ukrainian Orphanage Experience and the Future for Orphans

    Written by Ryan Young, at the invitation of Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg

    Many people worldwide are extending their humanitarian support and solidarity toward the unwarranted Russian war in Ukraine; however, the plight of Ukrainian orphans is often unintentionally overlooked. According to Save the Children, there are more than 100,000 orphan children living in 600 Ukrainian orphanages. The U.S. State Department recently declared a travel ban on U.S. citizens traveling to Ukraine due to the ongoing Russian war. As a result, many prospective adoptive parents hoping to adopt Ukrainian children are not able to proceed with the adoption process.

    I was once an orphan who lived in a Ukrainian orphanage. Here's my story and the effects that the ongoing war in Ukraine can have on the safety of orphans.

    I was born into a loving biological family that was circumstantially extremely poor. As a result, they had to cooperate with Ukrainian officials to remove my older birth brother and myself to be placed in a Ukrainian orphanage. After 7 years, a single, Argentinian American mother from the United States sought to adopt a child from Ukraine, and my time as a Ukrainian orphan was over. The adoption was finalized in May of 2008. Coinciding with the finalization of my adoption, former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko changed Ukrainian international adoption laws to prevent single people from adopting Ukrainian orphans. My brother and I were the last Ukrainian orphans adopted by a single parent. I continue to be grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be adopted. After coming to the United States, I spent 5 years in a private boarding school and ended up in the foster care system in Arizona at the age of 16, later aging out of the system at 18. I could not imagine being an orphan in Ukraine right now, and I am hopeful they are safe and protected from this war's life-threatening harm. 

    Many orphans in Ukraine rely on their government to preserve their safety, but how can a government do that when their top priorities revolve around restoring their peoples' freedoms and livelihood? There are current humanitarian efforts under way to ensure the orphans' safety, but I have to question how successful they will be if the Russian attacks continue to have a deadly effect in Ukraine. These orphan children shouldn't be in the midst of this war nor be put on the backburner. The Ukrainian orphans deserve safety, stability, and permanency above all, and our American foster care system has not been great at that. However, if we continue to focus on these priorities, all children can thrive even amidst deadly crises. Their lives are just as important as the rest of the people in Ukraine. I am hopeful that the Ukrainian government, along with humanitarian support, will fiercely continue to ensure their safety at such a challenging time like this.

  • CB Website Updates

    CB Website Updates

    The Children's Bureau website hosts information on child welfare programs, funding, monitoring, training and technical assistance, laws, statistics, research, federal reporting, and much more.

    Recent additions to the site include the following:

    Visit the Children's Bureau website often to see what's new.
  • Guides for How to Incorporate Coregulation With Older Youth in Foster Care

    Guides for How to Incorporate Coregulation With Older Youth in Foster Care

    For children and youth in foster care, having caring and supportive adults in their lives can significantly improve well-being and encourage positive youth development. These beneficial relationships are in part created through coregulation. Coregulation is when adults enact three types of support with youth: caring, consistent, and responsive relationships; cocreation of supportive environments; and intentional and developmentally informed day-to-day interactions.

    The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a series of guides that define the different components of coregulation and how it can be applied to youth in foster care. The guides are intended for adults who regularly interact with youth in foster care.

    There are four guides in the series (one each for caring adults, child welfare professionals, foster families, and kinship caregivers). Each guide provides information about what coregulation entails and why it is important, ways adults can foster coregulation in their relationships with youth, examples of conversations that support coregulation, and specific ways caring adults, child welfare professionals, foster families, and kinship caregivers can strengthen their capacity for coregulation.

    Read the following guides to learn more about coregulation and how it can improve well-being and support the development of children and youth in foster care:

Training and Technical Assistance Updates

This section features resources and updates from the Children's Bureau's technical assistance partners to support practices and systems that improve the lives of children and families.

  • NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Healthy Sexual Development and Identity

    NTDC Expands Parenting Paradigm to Help Foster, Kinship, and Adoptive Parents Better Understand Healthy Sexual Development and Identity

    Written By April Dinwoodie 

    The National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents (NTDC) is a modern educational approach to engaging and educating prospective and current foster, kinship, and adoptive parents. Available in June 2022, NTDC—which is informed by research and highlights the voices of parents, professionals, and youth—offers transformational, multimedia training experiences to help families understand their role in caring for children and build new and necessary parenting skills that ultimately expand the parenting paradigm. 

    Supporting the healthy sexual development and identity of youth requires parents and professionals to learn, grow, and continually expand their understanding of sexuality and relationships in nonjudgmental ways. Taking this to heart, the NTDC team has created specific content and tools for parents that address these foundational elements.

    Within the comprehensive curriculum, NTDC's right-time training (RTT) provides ongoing learning and skills development for participants by offering additional themes that are not covered in the classroom-based training. RTT is applicable to parents who are fostering or adopting children they are not related to, kinship caregivers, foster and adoptive parents who are American Indian/Alaska Native, and parents who have adopted privately domestically or via the intercountry process.

    Specifically, RTT includes tools, such as mini-podcasts, videos, and written content that provide an overview of healthy sexual development and how to talk to children about their sexual development and relationships. The tools address some of the needs children who have experienced trauma, loss, or separation may have in developing a positive, healthy identity relative to their sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. They also provide strategies for parents to use in supporting this development. 

    Informed by professionals and those with lived experience, the Healthy Sexual Development and Identity RTT helps parents and caregivers to do the following:
    • Understand and build awareness of definitions and language
    • Become familiar with the differences between sex and gender, gender expression and gender identity, and sexual orientation and gender
    • Know how to help children and teenagers develop strategies to handle bias and discrimination
    • Understand nonbinary gender identities
    • Help teenagers understand healthy sexual relationships
    The My Story Mini Podcast series is a signature learning tool that delivers short-form audio content that busy parents can access when they need it. One of the most powerful episodes in the series features Jarel Melendez, a youth formerly in foster care who had to navigate healthy sexual identity and sexual development coupled with the challenges of family separation and moves from state to state.  You can listen to the full episode here.

    For more information about the NTDC, contact Sue Cohick at scohick@spaulding.org.
  • Change and Implementation in Practice: Overview Video

    Change and Implementation in Practice: Overview Video

    The Capacity Building Center for States has a video that provides an overview of its Change and Implementation in Practice series of resources. The video provides information on how agencies that are seeking to implement new programs, services, and strategies to effect change and better outcomes for the children, youth, and families they serve can benefit from a structured approach to exploring the challenges associated with this task.

    The animated, 7-minute video presents two potential paths agencies can take when selecting and implementing a new program. On one path, agencies can quicky forge ahead with new and promising programs and services without first considering whether they will address specific problems or be a good fit for the families involved with the agency, which can lead to misspent resources, frustrated staff, and failure to meet the needs of children and families. Agencies can also choose a structured change and implementation path that uses data, evidence, and teamwork to understand the needs of families and find the right strategies to produce positive outcomes for them. On this path, agencies can plan and prepare to implement solutions as well as evaluate them through the course of their implementation to ensure they are a good fit.

    The video also discusses the following eight strategies that lead to effective change and implementation:

    • Teaming 
    • Assessing readiness
    • Problem exploration
    • Theory of change
    • Intervention selection and design/adaptation
    • Implementation planning and capacity building
    • Intervention testing, piloting, and staging
    • Monitoring, evaluating, and applying findings
    You can view the video, as well as the Change in Implementation in Practice suite, on the Capacity Building Center for States website.
  • Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners

    Updates From the Children's Bureau's Training and Technical Assistance Partners

    The Children's Bureau funds several technical assistance centers to provide professionals with tools to better serve children, youth, and families.

    The following are some of the latest resources from these partners:  

    Child Welfare Information Gateway   

    Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative
    Center for States: 

    Center for Tribes:  


    Children's Bureau Learning & Coordination Center (CBLCC)
    Visit the CBLCC website for more.

    AdoptUSKids
    Visit the AdoptUSKids website for more.

    National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect (NDACAN)
    • 2022 NDACAN Summer Training Webinar Series
      • July 6, 2022: Introduction to NDACAN and Data Management Strategies
      • July 13, 2022: Administrative Data (NCANDS, AFCARS) and Linking
      • July 20, 2022: Linking NDACAN Data With External Products
      • July 27, 2022: Structural Equation Modeling Workshop
      • August 3, 2022: Propensity Score Matching Workshop
      • August 10, 2022: Studying Racial Disparities Using NDACAN Data
    Visit the NDACAN website for more.

    National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) 
    Visit the NCWWI website for more.

    Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD)
    Visit the QIC-WD website for more.

    National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW)
    Visit the NCSACW website for more.

    James Bell Associates
    Visit the James Bell Associates website for more.

    Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse

  • The Power of Youth-Adult Partnerships

    The Power of Youth-Adult Partnerships

    Written by the Division X Technical Assistance Team

    The child welfare field continues to make strides toward involving youth and young adults to inform, guide, and lead systems improvement and change efforts. As agencies launch these change initiatives and incorporate youth and young adults into the decision-making process, what are the lessons learned, opportunities, wins, and challenges?

    Youth advisory boards (YABs) can play an essential role in informing the development and enhancement of child welfare policies and practices. The Louisiana YAB (also known as LEAF) was redesigned in 2019 to become more youth led and informed. Antonica Frazier, chairperson of LEAF's policy committee, engaged in brainstorming policy-related opportunities with other youth and young adults. The team included adult supporters, like Christy Tate, who was at the time a child welfare manager 2 and oversaw transitioning youth and the state's extended foster care program. Christy partnered with the YAB to inform, guide, and support a foster youth bill of rights and, ultimately, the legislation development effort. 

    The team researched existing bills of rights and reviewed current policies of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. Using the research and their lived experiences, the YAB created a multipage document highlighting the rights of young people across various topics, including placement, religion, familial rights, and the right to be more informed about their placement and care plans. The idea arose to formalize these rights through legislation, and with the support of Christy and her experience working and advocating with the state legislature, the Louisiana Foster Youth Bill of Rights became law. We asked Antonica and Christy about their engagement with each other, what productive engagement looks like, their lessons learned, and the advice they have for the field.

    When reflecting on the value of youth engagement in child welfare, Antonica said, "I engage with child welfare agencies to help improve the livelihoods for youth and young adults, to advocate for their rights as individuals...and to help increase youth voice." Christy added, "Engagement is a necessary component of a successful system. There is no better person to help you understand the needs of a service or system than those who have lived within it."

    Partnerships are critical because they empower young people to be the driver in shaping their lives and directing their futures. As Antonica notes, collaboration can also "bring youthful perspectives and ideas to the table." However, like with any relationship, there are challenges to overcome. From the agency perspective, it can feel difficult to capture those youthful perspectives at the right moment in time. According to Christy:

    "I think one of the biggest challenges is that youth, due to their age, are not always available long term. This is a stage of their life that will not last forever. The key is to ensure you have strong youth and staff working together to develop other youth along the way. Sometimes when people come and go, momentum can be lost, but if you have other strong youth involved, you can always keep moving forward."

    For those looking to launch or enhance their youth engagement initiatives, the partners from Louisiana had some advice. Antonica provided insight for youth involved in the building process, saying, "It is okay to be nervous and have some fears. This is a new relationship…and will take time to get better. Some of the partnerships will lead to making a difference for youth and young adults in child welfare, which is the reason why we do this work."

    Christy added the staff perspective to Antonica's advice, suggesting that agency staff should "be authentic and put time into it. Start with an open slate and be prepared to really listen and hear all their stories and all their needs. From there, find some quick and easy things to partner [on] for success so that everyone can see you are there to support their work and that you are committed to the success of their work. Also, compensate them for their time, their lived experience, and partnering to improve the system."

    Effective youth engagement calls for deliberate practice improvements. According to Antonica and Christy, the following are some strategies that child welfare staff and young adult advocates can use to encourage the formation of authentic partnerships:
    • Pulling teams together in group settings on a regular basis and dedicating the time to engage in deep planning
    • Building relationships and getting to know one another by creating space for team building and free time to eat, laugh, and talk
    • Celebrating the small, early successes that are critical for the vision and partnership and that reinforce the importance of the work
    • Coming to the work with a positive attitude and a passion for empowering youth and young adults
    • Sharing a joint mindset and goal for making a difference in the agency
    Division X Technical Assistance is funded by the Children's Bureau to partner with public child welfare agencies and enhance their youth engagement programs and initiatives. More information is available on the Division X Technical Assistance webpage.

Child Welfare Research

In this section, we highlight recent studies, literature reviews, and other research on child welfare topics.

Strategies and Tools for Practice

This section of CBX offers publications, articles, reports, toolkits, and other resources that provide evidence-based strategies or other concrete help to child welfare and related professionals.

  • Video Series Highlights Importance of Early Relational Health

    Video Series Highlights Importance of Early Relational Health

    The Perspectives on Early Relational Health Series, a suite of videos from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, includes four sessions during which experts share their perspectives on the importance of foundational early relationships. Each session is between 15 and 25 minutes long, and the presenters include parents, pediatricians, researchers, providers, and other experts. The goal of the series to inspire new insights and support for the movement to promote early relationships so children and caregivers can thrive.

    Each of the four sessions, listed below, is based on an early relational health topic:

  • Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ+ Children, Youth, and Families

    Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ+ Children, Youth, and Families

    Written by the Capacity Building Center for States 

    LGBTQ+* (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and others) children and youth, particularly transgender youth, are overrepresented in foster care. Studies indicate that about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+, compared with 11 percent of youth not in foster care, and that approximately 5 percent of youth in care identify as transgender, compared with 1 percent of youth not in foster care (Youth.gov, n.d.). Affirming and supporting youth is always the right thing to do, and for LGBTQ+ youth, it can be lifesaving (Green et al., 2021; The Trevor Project, 2019; Turban et al., 2020). Even something as seemingly small as using a young person's preferred pronouns can have a tremendous impact on their well-being.
     
    The past few years have seen an uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ policies, including those that penalize parents for affirming and caring for their youth. While many county and district attorneys have pledged to decline to prosecute such cases, the damage and fear has already had traumatic effects for the young people who need gender-affirming care and for the families that want to support them. These are in addition to longstanding policies that limit the rights of LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families and fail to protect even the basic safety of LGBTQ+ youth. In fact, only a single state ensures youth in foster care are placed in bedrooms according to their gender identity. LGBTQ+ children and youth already navigating a landscape of harmful policies may find out-of-home care an exceptionally harrowing experience.
     
    What Can You Do to Better Support LGBTQ+ Youth and Families?
     
    Child welfare professionals can use the following strategies to ensure practice in their agencies supports LGBTQ+ youth and families.
     
    Read and Reflect on the Children's Bureau's Guidance
     
    In the March 2, 2022, The Family Room blog post, the Children's Bureau outlined its support for LGBTQ+ children and youth. That post and Information Memorandum (ACYF-CB-IM 22-01) describe how to provide safe, affirming care to LGBTQ+ youth and list related provisions in federal law for title IV-B and IV-E agencies. 
     
    Agency leaders can explore ACYF-CB-IM-22-01 for resources and guidance regarding the use of federal funds for meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families, such as using title IV-B funds to assist adoptive families in accessing gender-affirming health care for their children. Additionally, agencies can advocate for families at risk of being separated and can use title IV-E funds to promote family preservation. We must think broadly and innovatively to use federal programs and funds as anchors in serving all families and youth in foster care.
     
    Review Resources and Best Practices
     
    The following resources can support agencies working to build capacity to support and affirm LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families:
    Dedicate Time and Resources to Building a Safe and Supportive Culture
     
    Consider how to advance equity for LGBTQ+ youth by cultivating a culture that recognizes the intersectional identities that individuals hold. As with all diversity initiatives, agencies must be sure to include LGBTQ+ individuals when designing and implementing materials, education, training, and policies. 
     
    Work to develop and model a culture that is open, accepting, and safe for LGBTQ+ children, youth, families, and staff. Consider how to demonstrate commitment to fostering an affirming environment by approaching different perspectives with curiosity and showing grace and encouragement to those who ask questions. Combine actionable policies and prioritized collaboration with LGBTQ+-affirming community partners to further align your practice and support your workers. 
     
    To move forward and create or improve an LGBTQ+-affirming culture, take time to pause and reflect on current practice. Below are a few questions to explore when assessing your agency's policies and values so you might better engage and support LGBTQ+ youth and families in foster care:
    • Are your policies intentional about assessing and providing each LGBTQ+ child's and youth's individualized needs?
    • Are you actively countering barriers to gender-affirming care?
    • Are you vigilant in placing LGBTQ+ children and youth in homes where they are wholly supported and celebrated?
    • Are you providing LGBTQ+ youth with opportunities to participate in activities that support their identity and development?
    • Are you actively building internal capacity to identify, understand, and address issues that LGBTQ+ youth encounter during their child welfare experience?
    • Are you prepared to provide trauma-competent and trauma-informed services?
    • Are you working to provide parents who are struggling to accept their child is LGBTQ+ with appropriate training and services?
    • Are agency staff supported, affirmed, and celebrated as their authentic selves?
    • Do agency materials, including the website, reflect a diverse representation of children, youth, and families?
    References
     
    Green, A. E., DeChants, J. P., Price, M. N., & Davis, C. K. (2021). Association of gender-affirming hormone therapy with depression, thoughts of suicide, and attempted suicide among transgender and nonbinary youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 70(4), 643–649. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.10.036
     
    The Trevor Project. (2019). Accepting adults reduce suicide attempts among LGBTQ youth. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/research-briefs/accepting-adults-reduce-suicide-attempts-among-lgbtq-youth/
     
    Turban, J. L., King, D., Carswell, J. M., & Keuroghlian, A. S. (2020). Pubertal suppression for transgender youth and risk of suicidal ideation. Pediatrics, 145(2), e20191725. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2019-1725
     
     
    *A variety of acronyms are used to describe the LGBTQ+ community, such as LGBTQIA2+. LGBTQIA2+ includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and/or two-spirit. Trans or trans* can be used as inclusive terms for transgender, genderfluid, and other gender identities other than cisgender. There is no single way to reference or define LGTBQ+ people or communities. It is best to use the preferred terminology of the person or people involved.

Resources

This section of CBX presents interesting resources, such as websites, videos, journals, funding or scholarship opportunities, or other materials, that can be used in the field or with families.

  • Parent Guide Offers Tips for Talking With Children About Race

    Parent Guide Offers Tips for Talking With Children About Race

    Children begin very early in life taking in spoken and unspoken messages about race; it permeates nearly every aspect of life—in the books read to them and those they read, the movies they watch, the music they listen to, the conversations around them, and the relationships and interactions they observe. A resource developed by EmbraceRace seeks to equip parents and caregivers with useful tips they can use to help guide and shape their child's education and perception of race. 

    16 Ways to Help Children Become Thoughtful, Informed, and BRAVE About Race is a colorful four-page guide that presents tips organized into the following four sections:

    • Starting early. The earlier, the better.
    • Let your child see you do your own work.
    • Learn about others and yourself.
    • Raise a changemaker. 
    EmbraceRace is a multiracial community of parents, teachers, professionals, and other caring adults working collaboratively to address the racial challenges faced by today's youth. The guide is available in English and Spanish and is accessible on the EmbraceRace website

  • Factsheet Helps Youth in Care Learn to Self-Advocate

    Factsheet Helps Youth in Care Learn to Self-Advocate

    A factsheet from Child Welfare Information Gateway seeks to empower youth involved in the child welfare system to speak up about their feelings, wants and needs, questions and concerns, and aspirations. In doing so, youth can play an active role in the conversations and decision-making that directly affect them.

    The publication, Using Your Voice: A Guide for Youth on Participating in Case Planning, answers and expands upon the following questions:

    • What is youth engagement?
    • What is case planning?
    • How can you participate in case planning?
    • What are your rights as a youth in care?
    • How can you become involved in advocacy efforts to elevate youth voice in child welfare?
    Information is presented in easy-to-follow sections that utilize color, call-out boxes, bulleted lists, and visuals. A variety of hyperlinks throughout the guide and a listing of resources at the end also connect readers to supplemental information and helpful organizations. 

    To learn more, read Using Your Voice: A Guide for Youth on Participating in Case Planning on the Information Gateway website. 

Training and Conferences

Find trainings, workshops, webinars, and other opportunities for professionals and families to learn about how to improve the lives of children and youth as well as a listing of upcoming events and conferences.