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Legal Services for Children, 20061 Achieving Permanency for LGBTQ Youth Model Standards Project.

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Presentation on theme: "Legal Services for Children, 20061 Achieving Permanency for LGBTQ Youth Model Standards Project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Legal Services for Children, 20061 Achieving Permanency for LGBTQ Youth Model Standards Project

2 Legal Services for Children, 20062 Breaking the Ice LGBTQ BINGO

3 Legal Services for Children, 20063 Introduction Model Standards Project

4 Legal Services for Children, 20064 Digital Stories Danielle’s Story Darryn’s Story

5 Legal Services for Children, 20065 LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in populations likely to be involved in state systems –High rates of violence & rejection after coming out –25-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ Estimated 4-10% of youth in foster care are LGBTQ identified

6 Legal Services for Children, 20066 Entrance to Foster Care Abuse or neglect because of sexual orientation (SO) or gender identity (GI) Runaway/throwaway Grew up in foster care Abuse or neglect, not related to SO or GI

7 Legal Services for Children, 20067 Experiences in Foster Care VICTIMIZED –70% LGBTQ youth reported violence based on SO or GI while in group home DISPLACED –78% removed or ran away from placement because of hostility to SO or GI SEGREGATED –LGBTQ are segregated from other PUNISHED –LGBTQ punished for expressing SO or GI

8 Legal Services for Children, 20068 Experiences in Foster Care (cont’d) CRIMINALIZED –Arrested for engaging in developmentally appropriate experimentation –Classified as sex offenders PATHOLOGIZED –Subjected to reparative therapy ISOLATED –Not allowed access to LGBTQ supportive programs RESTRICTED –Not allowed to dress or groom as they prefer

9 Legal Services for Children, 20069 Digital Stories Kira’s Story George’s Story

10 Legal Services for Children, 200610 Barriers to Permanence Lack of permanent connections to communities & birthfamilies Over-reliance on congregate care – Shortage of LGBTQ-affirming family placements Multiple, unstable placements –Lack of acceptance or overt discrimination Resistance to permanence –Multiple rejections –Difficulty trusting & depending on adults

11 Legal Services for Children, 200611 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth Creating a Safe, Affirming Environment for LGBTQ Youth –“LGBTQ-friendly” posters, etc –Respectful & inclusive terminology –Anti-harassment & -discrimination policies –Grievance procedures

12 Legal Services for Children, 200612 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth (cont’d) Developing a Strong Agency Focus on Permanence –Build agency support for the concept that LGBTQ youth need & deserve permanent, loving families, and that some families are willing to make this commitment

13 Legal Services for Children, 200613 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth (cont’d) Developing Guidelines & Procedures to Support Permanency Plans for all LGBTQ Youth –Limit use of independent living as case goal –Limit use of congregate care –Develop youth-driven permanency model –Train all staff in general permanency strategies as well as overcoming the barriers to permanence experienced by LGBTQ youth

14 Legal Services for Children, 200614 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth (cont’d) Working Closely with LGBTQ Youth –Identify potential permanent families Fictive kin; agency staff members; adult role models & mentors –Address fears & concerns about permanence Fear of rejection Difficulty imagining being part of family Feelings of unworthiness re having a family Reluctance to commit to another adult or family due to unresolved issues with birthfamilies

15 Legal Services for Children, 200615 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth (cont’d) Reducing Reliance on Group Care for LGBTQ Youth –Challenge assumption that the only safe placement for LGBTQ youth is in residential facility –Invest resources in recruiting, training, & supporting LGBTQ-affirming families –Create family-centered transition plans for all LGBTQ youth, including those placed in group care setting

16 Legal Services for Children, 200616 Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth (cont’d) Providing Training & Ongoing Support to Permanent Families –Provide adults & families who make permanent commitment to LGBTQ youth with: Accurate, evidence-based info about LGBTQ youth, including effects of social stigma on adolescent development Info re the challenges they may confront as they adjust to a permanent relationship & the support their LGBTQ child will need at home & in the world

17 Legal Services for Children, 200617 Putting It Into Practice… John has lived with the Nguyen foster family for 6 years and is doing very well. When he “comes out,” the Nguyens are very upset and call the social worker to ask that he be removed. They do not want John around their minor children.

18 Legal Services for Children, 200618 Putting It Into Practice… A child welfare agency has acquired LGBT-affirming posters to be displayed throughout the building. The supervisor of the Teen Unit has requested that social workers display them prominently in their workspaces. One of the workers adamantly refuses, telling her supervisor the poster’s message goes against her religious beliefs.

19 Legal Services for Children, 200619 Putting It Into Practice… You are a Supervising Social Worker who is participating in a case review of a teenage girl who recently “came out” as bisexual. One social worker suggests the local LGBT Center would be a good resource for this client in terms of meeting other LGBTQ youth and adult mentors. The social worker whose case it is states she does not see this as an appropriate referral because “it’s not my job to encourage this lifestyle.”

20 Legal Services for Children, 200620 Putting It Into Practice… Cristina, a 16 year-old MTF, was kicked out of her home when she “came out” to her mother. She is involved in an LGBTQ youth group and wants her counselor to become her legal guardian. Cristina’s mother, however, is adamantly opposed to this idea.

21 Legal Services for Children, 200621 Putting It Into Practice… A social worker needs to recommend a placement for, Chantel, an openly lesbian foster youth. She has a choice between a foster family that has never dealt with an LGBTQ youth but seems open, or a group home specifically for LGBTQ youth.

22 Legal Services for Children, 200622 Putting It Into Practice… Malcolm is a 15 year-old boy who is openly gay. He has been in several placements—both foster and group homes. His social worker has located a prospective foster family. They agree to take Malcolm in, but their religion teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

23 Legal Services for Children, 200623 Putting It Into Practice… Fei, who is 13 years old, reveals to her foster mother of 3 years her emerging sexual feelings for other girls. Her foster mother genuinely loves her and wants to do the right thing, but feels very uncomfortable and judgmental.

24 Legal Services for Children, 200624 Resources –Breaking the Silence: LGBTQ Foster Youth Tell Their Stories ( –Child Welfare: LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare, March/April 2006 ( –CWLA Best Practice Guidelines: Serving LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care ( –Out of the Margins: A Report on Regional Listening Forums (

25 Legal Services for Children, 200625 Contact Information Carolyn Reyes Legal Services for Children 415-863-3762, x 314

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