A new report highlights the ways that the coronavirus pandemic has heightened the risk for LGBTQ youth in foster care. It then recommends steps that child welfare agencies, states and the federal government can take to curtail those risks.
Children’s Rights, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to improve America’s child welfare, juvenile justice, education and health care systems through advocacy and legal action, released its report, titled “Fostering Inequity: How Covid-19 Amplifies Dangers for LGBTQ+ Youth in Care,” last week.
While first acknowledging that LGBTQ youth in foster care already faced unique difficulties, the report found that the pandemic increased the stress on their families, led to more housing instability and dwindling placements, heightened their health risks and took an even more severe toll on their financial lives.
Children’s Rights’ calls on child welfare agencies to immediately extend the time older youth ages 18 to 21 may remain in foster care. Agencies should also suspend school and work requirements for the assistance, and expedite re-entry into foster care for those who have opted out. Some states have already taken some of these steps.
The advocacy group also says state and local government agencies should ensure that LGBTQ youth are specifically represented as such in data collection systems. At the federal level, the government should implement inclusive nondiscrimination laws or regulations that ensure equal protection of LGBTQ youth.