DCFS to improve training, resources for LGBTQ youth in care

Department of Children and Family Services in Springfield (Photo by Tom Wray)

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on Tuesday announced they were enhancing training and resources for LGBTQ youth in foster care.

“Our mission is clear: to build a child welfare system in Illinois that protects children and supports families in crisis,” said DCFS Director Marc D. Smith. “I am deeply committed to ensuring all the youth in our care, including those who are LGBTQI+, feel safe and loved; and our staff and foster families have the tools they need to provide affirming and informed care.”

“Studies have shown that approximately 30% of youth in care nationwide identify as LGBTQI+, and many youth come into care when they are rejected by their families after making their sexual orientation or gender identity known,” said DCFS Chief of LGBTQI+ Services Marla Courts. “LGBTQI+ youth are more at risk of becoming homeless than their peers and they need welcoming, affirming and supportive families to care and advocate for them.”

To meet the needs of LGBTQI+ youth in care, the department is working diligently to expand its network of gender-affirming therapists, service providers, health care professionals, agencies and organizations across the state.

LGBTQI+ youth in care, foster and adoptive parents and child welfare staff may call the department’s LGBTQI+ Helpline (855-814-8421) for assistance and answers to questions about their rights, available services and resources and upcoming training opportunities.