Two New Jersey agencies are working with HRC toward fully LGBTQ inclusive foster care

LGBT Youth

A Loving Choice Adoption and NJDCF has partnered with HRC

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation released a new report, 2021 Change-Makers, highlighting the HRC Foundation All Children-All Families (ACAF) program’s partnership with 119 organizations—a 19 percent increase in participation from last year. These partners are working to improve the services provided for the LGBTQ community, including children in foster care.

The organizations serve more than one-million clients annually in 35 states and employ more than 24,000 employees. One in three of all children in foster care are LGBTQ according to many studies. There are two organizations located in New Jersey featured in the report. They are A Loving Choice Adoption Associates and New Jersey Department of Children and Families—Child Protection & Permanency Division.

“The third edition of our Change-Makers report shows that, despite the many hardships of the last year, more organizations than ever before are working alongside the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to make impactful change for the LGBTQ+ youth and families they serve,” said Alison Delpercio, Human Rights Campaign Foundation Director for All Children—All Families. “This year’s participants also demonstrated a growing commitment to intersectionality and ensuring organizational policies and practices do not reinforce the same systems of oppression that put youth and families at risk in the first place.”

“By taking on these challenges the change-makers featured in our 2021 report are models for youth-serving professionals everywhere,” said Delpercio.

The release comes at a time when many have been sounding the alarm about the particular risks foster youth face due to COVID-19. Currently, LGBTQ inclusion work in foster care systems could not be more important.

Studies have shown us that LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care, and that child welfare systems must do more to ensure that the trauma of foster care, where LGBTQ youth already face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes, is never compounded by that caused by unsafe and non-affirming foster homes.

According to this year’s Change-Makers report, these LGBTQ youth face a higher rate of mistreatment while in care. Additionally, LGBTQ youth report more frequent placement disruptions and a higher likelihood of being placed in congregate care settings.

The agencies featured in this report conducted an internal self-assessment, provided professional development to staff and implemented ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion,” which track policy and practice changes within agencies. The 2021 Change-Makers report features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the progress agencies have made toward becoming fully welcoming to their LGBTQ clients.

With 32 new participants this year, ACAF also expands the program’s reach into six new states—Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and North Carolina—and the District of Columbia for the first time. Ninety-two percent of participants met a tier of recognition, and 14 of the returning organizations advanced to a higher tier of recognition.

  • Innovative Inclusion: 44 organizations met all 25 applicable criteria and are going beyond to innovate their services for LGBTQ youth and families
  • Solid Foundation for Inclusion: 40 organizations met all 25 applicable policy and practice criteria for LGBTQ inclusion
  • Building Foundation for Inclusion: 25 organizations met foundational criteria, including non-discrimination protections

The report features profiles of four child welfare organizations that are setting the bar for LGBTQ inclusion while adapting to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to calls for an end to systemic racism—including in child welfare: Vista Del Mar in California; Extraordinary Families in California; Texas Casa in Texas; and 360 Youth Services in Illinois. The report also features interviews with individuals who have been impacted by LGBTQ inclusive services, including: Manuel Padilla, a foster parent in Colorado; and Victoria, a former youth in care and now trainer at Lawrence Hall in Illinois.

Since 2007, hundreds of child welfare agencies across the U.S. have used ACAF’s resources to enhance their efforts to achieve safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ youth and families. Read the full report here.