The number of child welfare agencies working to create a more welcoming experience for thousands of LGBTQ foster youth took a big jump in the past year, according to a report released Thursday by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
One hundred agencies signed onto the Campaign’s All Children-All Families program, with the intent of improving their ability to meet the special needs of this more vulnerable group of LGBTQ kids — a 40 percent increase over the number last year, according to the new report, Change-Makers in Child Welfare 2020.
The Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, with 3 million members and supporters, is the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization.
Although its All Children-All Families program is 13 years old, it was only last year that the organization released its annual report. The program recognized three tiers of achievement for participating agencies in what is the first of its now-annual reports on the program.
Despite all of the coronavirus-related restrictions, most of 33 new participants achieved at least the lowest tier, and even those that didn’t made “impressive progress” on the “benchmarks of inclusion,” according to the report released this month.
“Our work to end anti-LGBTQ discrimination in child welfare is more important than ever,” said HRC Foundation President Alphonso David in the 2020 report, taking note of the “Trump-Pence” administration’s “relentless attacks” on LGBTQ rights. The organizations highlighted in the report are working with the Human Rights Campaign “to ensure anti-LGBTQ bias does not get in the way of life-saving services for children and families.”
Since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage the law of the land in 2015, 11 states — Alabama, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Tennessee and Texas — have passed laws enabling faith-based child welfare providers to be discriminatory in who they choose to work with or serve. And in late 2019, the Trump administration rolled back several Obama-era orders that curtailed discrimination by providers that take federal dollars.
In February, the Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments in a case out of Philadelphia about faith-based discrimination in child welfare that could have far-reaching implications about the division of church and state.
Together, the 100 participating agencies in 28 states that are working with HRC serve more than 614,000 clients, including youth, parents and guardians, and employ 15,000 people.
The report also profiles some of the child welfare organizations seen as doing the best work at inclusion, including Amara of Seattle; Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health in Arizona; FosterAdopt Connect of Missouri and Kansas; and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia.
“We hope the stories shared in the report provide hope and inspiration to the children, as well as the policymakers pushing for progress during these challenging, unprecedented times,” David said.