Illinois DCFS announces expanded resources for LGBTQ youth
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has announced expanded resources for LGBTQ youth in foster care.
DCFS said that LGBTQ youth face additional challenges in foster care, including homophobia, transphobia and the constant need to assess their communities, schools, social networks and foster families to decide whether to disclose their identity, when to do so and to whom.
“Our mission is to provide a safe and loving home for every youth in our care, including those who are LGBTQI+,” said DCFS Director Marc D. Smith. “We’re doing that by providing ongoing training to our staff; expanding our network of service providers, health care professionals and private agency partners; and making sure foster families have the tools they need to provide affirming and informed care to the youth that need them most.”
DCFS has come under fire for failing LGBTQ you in recent years, including from the Illinois General Assembly. The department started mandatory LGBTQ training last fall. The training provides guidance on how to ensure the safety, well-being and permanency of LGBTQ youth in care; outline professional and ethical responsibilities of caregivers; provide an overview of the importance of support; understand why LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in child welfare; and identifying effective strategies to meet their needs.
Studies have shown that approximately 30% of youth in care nationwide identify as LGBTQ, and many youth come into care when they are rejected by their families after making their sexual orientation or gender identity known. They are more at risk of becoming homeless than their peers.