Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation unveiled groundbreaking new resources to guide child welfare agencies across the nation in better serving the more than 430,000 children and young people in foster care. The resources from HRC’s All Children – All Families (ACAF) program — including assessment tools and a comprehensive webinar series on how best to serve LGBTQ youth — will allow agencies to assess their policies and practices around working with young people and prospective parents, and help them meet HRC’s benchmarks for providing fully LGBTQ-inclusive services.
“For more than a decade, All Children – All Families has worked with child welfare agencies across the country to help them welcome and affirm LGBTQ children, youth and families. Today, these agencies are dedicated to not only protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination but also creating new and innovative approaches to engaging with the community,” said Alison Delpercio, Deputy Director, HRC Children, Youth & Families Program. “Given recent efforts by anti-equality legislators across the country to grant agencies ‘licenses to discriminate’ targeting prospective LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents, our work to ensure that child welfare organizations are fully inclusive of LGBTQ youth and families has never been more important.”
In light of these specious “license to discriminate” attacks, national child welfare organizations including the Adoption Exchange Association, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the National Center on Adoption and Permanency, the North American Council on Adoptable Children and Voice for Adoption are joining HRC in urging all agencies nationwide to implement pro-equality policies and practices changes.
“Now, more than ever, the groundbreaking All Children-All Families program must be woven into the work of every child welfare agency to ensure that LGBTQ children and families are treated with understanding, personal respect and professional competency,” said Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption President & CEO Rita L. Soronen. “With the program’s new tools added to its innovative and ongoing technical assistance, training and support, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation simply encourages each of us in child welfare to build up, rather than tear down, the significance of human diversity.”
“Voice for Adoption has long understood the importance of protecting the wellbeing of children at all costs. Now more than ever, it is important for organizations in child welfare to protect, nurture, and celebrate the diversity of the children and families we serve. HRC’s All-Children All-Families is an important step in the right direction,” said Voice for Adoption Executive Director Schylar Baber. “No child or family should be refused services or denied the ability to adopt, or be adopted, base on their sexual orientation or gender identity. We need every single family we can get, and we need to ensure that our children feel that they are safe and don’t need to hide their true selves from the world. Children belong in families, period.”
HRC’s new resources include an online assessment tool that allows agencies — from those beginning their LGBTQ training to seasoned experts — to grade themselves on their LGBTQ-inclusive policies and practices using new, more ambitious benchmarks that encourage innovation. HRC is also releasing a webinar series with more than 20 offerings. ACAF is also creating an opportunity for child welfare agency leaders from across the U.S. to connect and learn from each other through a group-based technical assistance program. Agencies that demonstrate innovative approaches to LGBTQ inclusion are formally recognized annually and awarded a Seal of Recognition from HRC. Interested agencies can request to participate today here.
So far this year, HRC and major state partners have battled more than 110 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in 29 states; to date, only two of those bills have been signed into law. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed SB 1140, a bill that would allow child welfare organizations — including adoption and foster care agencies — to turn away qualified Oklahomans seeking to care for a child in need, including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents, married couples in which one prospective parent has previously been divorced, or other parents to whom the agency has a religious objection. Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer signed SB 284, which is a license to discriminate with taxpayer funds against prospective LGBTQ foster or adoptive parents, single parents, or other qualified families.
For more than 10 years, HRC has been on the frontlines of expanding access and inclusion within America’s child welfare services, from combatting license to discriminate laws at the state and federal levels to working with youth-serving professionals on the ground. ACAF promotes LGBTQ-inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies. Agencies that lead the field with innovative approaches to inclusion are formally recognized annually. The participation cycle begins in May when agencies gain access to comprehensive resources, including an online self-assessment tool, expert webinars on LGBTQ topics, group-based technical assistance and more.