Rule Finalized to Safeguard LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care

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President Joe Biden’s administration has introduced new measures aimed at ensuring LGBTQ+ and intersex children in foster care receive appropriate and supportive placements. 

New Measures for LGBTQ+ Youth

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Announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its Administration for Children and Families, this rule, finalized on Tuesday, builds on a proposal from last September. 

Entitlement to Protections Against Harassment and Abuse


The rule underscores that all children in the child welfare system, including those who are LGBTQI+, have the right to be free from harassment, abuse, and other forms of mistreatment. 

It also mandates that state child welfare agencies fulfill their duty to provide safe and proper care by securing specially designated placements for LGBTQI+ children.

What Makes a Foster Home LGBTQ+ Friendly?


To qualify as a designated placement for LGBTQ+ and intersex children, providers must actively foster an environment that affirms the child’s identity. 

This involves committing to support the child’s self-identified sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

Training and Resources for LGBTQ+ Foster Care


Providers must also be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to meet these children’s specific needs and must facilitate access to age-appropriate resources, services, and activities that promote their overall health and well-being.

No Penalties for Non-designated LGBTQ+ Foster Homes


While the new rule does not compel care providers to seek designation as a specialized placement for LGBTQ+ and intersex youth, nor does it impose penalties on those who choose not to, it does require state and tribal child welfare agencies to ensure a sufficient number of these supportive environments are available. 

Bullying of LGBTQ+ Foster Children 


This is particularly important because LGBTQ+ and intersex children disproportionately experience bullying and harassment and generally face poorer outcomes compared to their straight and cisgender counterparts, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Promoting Stability in Foster Care Placements


This comprehensive approach aims to promote placement stability while maintaining sibling, kinship, family, and community connections, in line with each child’s best interest and the provider’s willingness.

HHS Secretary Advocates for Safe Foster Homes


HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra highlighted the importance of providing a safe and loving home for every child. He pointed out that children entering government care require supports and services tailored to their specific needs. 

This new rule focusing on LGBTQI+ children marks a critical step towards ensuring that all children have the opportunity to thrive.

Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care


Jeff Hild, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Administration for Children and Families, reinforced this perspective, noting the success young people achieve when they receive the necessary support. 

The rule is designed to give LGBTQI+ youth in foster care access to environments where they can flourish.

Family Law Experts Praise New Rules


The National Center for Lesbian Rights has shown strong support for this policy. Nesta N. Johnson, a family law attorney at the center, emphasized the universal need for love, acceptance, and support, which has been a challenge for the system to provide to LGBTQI+ children. 

Preventing Abuse in LGBTQ+ Foster Settings


Nesta N. Johnson commended the HHS for enforcing a rule that requires care providers to protect all children from mistreatment, harassment, or abuse, including those based on LGBTQI+ status.

High Percentage of LGBTQ+ Youth in Foster Care


Danielle King, NCLR senior youth policy counsel, says that LGBTQI+ youth make up a significant portion of the foster care population in the U.S., constituting nearly a third of all foster youth. 

Despite their numbers, there are numerous reports across the country of LGBTQI+ foster youth being placed in environments where they do not feel safe or have faced discrimination. 

Ensuring a Safe Space for Everyone


Danielle King notes that it is important that LGBTQI+ foster youth are provided with a secure and supportive environment, receive services tailored to their specific needs, and have the ability to voice concerns about their placements without fear of discrimination or retaliation. 

Protecting Vulnerable Youth in Foster Care


The HHS has been proactive in issuing guidance to child welfare agencies and their contractors, ensuring that all foster youth have the opportunity to feel safe and protected. 

This move has been widely supported by the NCLR, emphasizing the importance of specific protections for these vulnerable youth.

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