Achieving Permanency for LGBTQ Youth CPYP 2009 Annual Conference
Introduction • Model Standards Project • CPYP Training
Digital Stories • Danielle’s Story • Darryn’s Story
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/being found out • 25-40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ • Estimated 4-10% of youth in foster care are LGBTQ identified
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
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
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
Barriers to Permanence • Lack of permanent connections to communities & birth families • 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
Meeting the Permanency Needs of LGBTQ Youth • Create a safe, affirming environment for LGBTQ youth • Develop a strong agency focus on permanence • Develop guidelines & procedures to support permanency plans for all LGBTQ youth • Work closely with LGBTQ youth • Reduce reliance on group care for LGBTQ youth • Provide training & ongoing support to permanent families
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.
Putting It Into Practice… • A child welfare agency has acquired LGBT-affirming posters to be displayed throughout the building. The supervisor of one of the units 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.
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.”
Putting It Into Practice… • Cristina, a 16 year-old MTF, was kicked out of her home when she “came out” as transgender 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.
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.
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.
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.
Resources • Breaking the Silence: LGBTQ Foster Youth Tell Their Stories (www.nclrights.org) • Child Welfare: LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare, March/April 2006 (www.cwla.org) • CWLA Best Practice Guidelines: Serving LGBT Youth in Out-of-Home Care (www.cwla.org) • Out of the Margins: A Report on Regional Listening Forums (www.cwla.org)
Contact Information • Linda Chiu, MSW Legal Services for Children 415-863-3762, x 323 email@example.com • Carolyn Reyes, Esq., MSW Legal Services for Children 415-863-3762, x 314 firstname.lastname@example.org