Los Angeles County committed to stepping up its support for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system when its board of supervisors passed a motion yesterday dedicating $100,000 to analyze services directed at this population.
Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl submitted the motion, which calls on a bevy of county departments, led by the recently formed Office of Child Protection, to report back to the board in 60 days with a plan to hire an expert consultant who would focus on support for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) youth in the county’s child welfare system, which is the largest of its kind in the nation.
The consultant would identify all county departments that serve LGBTQ youth, and create an inventory of LGBTQ-specific programs, according to the motion. The consultant would also review demographic data, intake, service planning and case review processes to identify:
- Improvements to providing culturally competent care and support.
- Opportunities to add questions or information (in a culturally competent and sensitive manner) about sexual orientation, gender identity and discriminatory experiences.
- Training needs for staff and contractors to raise the competency of those collecting this information or serving this population.
LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system in Los Angeles County, as 19 percent of foster youth identified as LGBTQ in a 2014 study authored by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law and the Los Angeles LGBT Center. That percentage was used to estimate a total 1,400 LGBTQ foster youths in the county. This was the first population-based survey to measure sexual orientation and gender identity of youth in any foster care system.
“All the young people in our foster care system face incredible challenges but the nearly 20 percent who identify as LGBTQ are in great need of targeted support to ensure they’re properly cared for, valued and respected,” Kuehl said in an article on her website that was published after the motion passed.