"It was hard to express how I felt, or even be honest who I was. Everyone made jokes about homosexuals."
-- former foster youth
LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care are at an increased risk of being placed in group homes or congregate care.
TL:DR-- How to support LGBTQ2S+ youth in congregate care settings:
- LGBTQ2S+ youth in congregate care are at an increased risk of being discriminated against and/or harrassed.
- Congregate care facilities can support LGBTQ2S+ youth by implementing non-discrimination policies.
- Group homes should ensure staff are trained on affirming +inclusive practices.
- Affirming messaging should be present in congregate care placements.
- LGBTQ2S+ youth should be able to access community-based resources.
To help reduce the number of unnecessary placements into congregate care, the Family First Act (2018) included provisions about the use of congregate care for youth in foster care. Since LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care will always be represented in congregate care settings, it’s important for those who work in congregate care to ensure they support and protect LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care.
Why do LGBTQ2S+ youth need special protections in congregate care?
Queer youth placed in congregate care settings are at an increased risk of being harassed, discriminated against, and experiencing violence2. To properly care for the LGBTQIA2S+ youth in their care, congregate care facilities must provide policies and systems to ensure the appropriate care and support of queer youth.
How can congregate care facilities better support LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care?
- Create and implement non-discrimination policies to protect LGBTQ2S+ individuals3
- Require immediate steps address any anti-LGBTQ2S+ harassment that occurs in the facility4
- Implement policies that prevent the overplacement of queer youth in the facility5
- Ensure the implemented accountability process is effective in addressing and decreasing discrimination6
- Provide and require staff trainings on LGBTQ2S+ affirming practice7
- Display LGBTQ2S+ supportive signs and symbols8–such as pride flags
- Help LGBTQ2S+ youth at the access community resources9 and ensure access to queer specific resources and materials (such as books or educational materials) in the facility
Together, we can make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ2S+ youth in foster care who are placed in congregate care settings. No youth should experience discrimination, harassment, or violence due to their identity.
Want to learn more? Check out our sources and additional resources:
- 1 #FosterEquality: Why do we care? And why should you?
- 2, 4, 5, 8, 9 Congregate Care Providers Working with LGBTQ Youth
- 3, 6,7 Advancing Healthy Outcomes Eight Ways to Promote the Health and Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Youth Involved with Child Welfare through FFPSA
- Info for Congregate Care Providers
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth in Foster Care
- Improving Policies and Services in Congregate Care Settings: Our Priorities
- Policy Essay: Fostering the acceptance and inclusion of LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system: Considerations for advancing trauma informed responses for LGBTQ youth in care