LGBTQ+ & Two-Spirit youth

Policy Corner: How the Family First Act Impacts LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care (Congregate Care Edition)


What is the Family First Act (FFA)?

  • A bi-partisan law that was supported by FosterClub's lived experience leaders
  • Passed in 2018, FFA included historic reforms that focus on keeping children safely with their families, when possible
  • FFA achieved the following1
    • Funding prevention services
    • Providing support for kinship (relative) caregivers
    • Establishing requirements for placement in residential treatment programs (congregate care) and improving quality and oversight of services
    • Improving services to older youth

How does the FFA help decrease congregate care placements for LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care?

Queer youth in foster care are at an increased risk of being placed in congregate care2. FFA includes the following about congregate care placements3:

  • Promotes limited use of congregate care as a placement
  • Promotes congregate care use primarily to support "complex clinical needs of children and youth"4 who have significant trauma exposure
  • Congregate care must be the least restrictive treatment intervention possible
  • Child's clinical needs must be met by the given facility's specific treatment model
  • If the assessment says a child's needs can be met in a less restrictive place, they must be moved to a less restrictive placement

By implementing the Family First Act, states help ensure that LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care are not placed in congregate care due to a lack of affirming foster families being available. Rather, the Family First Act will ensure that if an LGBQIA2S+ youth in foster care is placed in congregate care, it is truly what is best for the youth. This will decrease the number of LGBTQIA2S+ youth in foster care who are unnecessarily placed in congregate care. 

What can you do?

  • Caseworkers + advocates + professionals: Make sure to follow FFA guidelines when placing LGBTQIA2S+ youth in congregate care
  • Kinship Caregivers + foster/resource families: Help educate LGBTQIA2S+ youth in your care on FFA guidelines for being placed in congregate care, so they can advocate for themselves if they are ever placed there
  • Everyone: Contact your representative and senators and tell them how important these services are for LGBTQIA2S+ youth in care! Encourage them to put more funding towards supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth in care and ensuring they receive the resources they need
    • You can use the resource here to find your representatives and senators
    • For tips on writing your representative(s) or senator(s), see the resource here

Want to learn more about the Family First Act and Congregate Care? Check out these resources!


What lived experience voices are saying


1Family First Act: About the Law

2#FosterEqaulity: Why do we care? And why should you?

3Family First Act Bill Text

4Congregate Care in the Age of Family First

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