The Los Angeles LGBT Center commends Governor Gavin Newsom’s final 2022-23 fiscal year budget, which includes $5 million for LGBTQ foster youth programming.
The pilot program will require the California Department of Social Services (DPSS) to improve the child welfare system by providing affirming services designed specifically for LGBTQ foster youth. The services will be designed to address the barriers LGBTQ youth encounter in their interpersonal, familial, and community relationships due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE).
“We are delighted that Governor Newsom has taken this important step towards creating an equitable foster care system for California’s LGBTQ youth,” said Center CEO, Joe Hollendoner. “This funding will improve capacity, training, and culturally responsive care that addresses the unique needs of—and offers meaningful protections for—LGBTQ youth. The Center has been a pioneer in LGBTQ-inclusive programming for youth, and we will continue working with our partners to help protect LGBTQ foster youth from hate, violence, and discrimination. Every youth deserves a loving home with a caring family and culturally affirming support systems.”
LGBTQ foster youth are over-represented in the foster care system, and youth of color are disproportionately represented among those LGBTQ youth. A Williams Institute report finds that one in five foster care youth are LGBT; of those youth, 90% are youth of color. Additionally, LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ youth to end up in a congregate care setting.
LGBTQ foster youth also face greater challenges when in custody with non-affirming foster families as they are disproportionately at risk for physical, sexual, emotional, and mental abuse. On average, 56% of LGBTQ+ youth report that they have felt safer living on the streets than with foster parents. For these reasons and others, robust continuums of care that are culturally responsive for supporting LGBTQ youth are critical.
“The Center has worked hard to include LGBTQ foster youth in the narrative of family acceptance,” said Hollendoner. “We are committed and determined to creating equitable and healthy systems with better outcomes for our entire community.”