The Los Angeles LGBT Center lauds the County Board of Supervisors for passing a supplemental budget today to its fiscal year 2021-2022, which includes an allocation of $3.6 million to provide direct services and support to LGBTQ foster youth under its care. Led by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda L. Solis, and with the determined leadership of Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Director Bobby Cagle, this commendable decision finally will begin to address the well-documented and unmet needs of these young people.
“The Los Angeles LGBT Center has seen far too many LGBTQ foster youth suffer due to the lack of support they need to thrive,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “By appropriating $3.6 million that will tailor services specific to these youth, the Supervisors and DCFS Director Cagle championed the county’s efforts to support and affirm these underserved youth in achieving independence. We thank them for making it known that ignoring the needs of LGBTQ foster youth can no longer be tolerated.”
“Queer youth are more likely than any other set of young people to be homeless, to face financial instability and to have mental health issues, but research shows that targeted support for these young people can mean better outcomes tomorrow,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “The approval of significant funding in this year’s County budget will allow us to work so that our LGBTQ young people will have increased opportunity to thrive. My deep thanks to DCFS Bobby Cagle for pushing for this and to the Center for its longtime advocacy going all the way back to when the Third District’s own Torie Osborn was the Center’s Executive Director.”
According to research commissioned by the Center and conducted by UCLA’s Williams Institute in 2014, approximately 20 percent of foster youth—that’s 1 in 5—identify as LGBTQ and more than 90 percent of them are youth of color. Other studies have indicated that as many as 30 percent of foster youth identify as LGBTQ.
“Los Angeles County has a responsibility to provide LGBTQ youth in foster care with tailored services, services that help them recover from trauma and allow them to live happy and safe lives,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “The $3.6 million investment is critical—it is not just a statement, but action. I stand with the young people of this County, and I thank the Los Angeles LGBT Center for its partnership.”
To identify and address the inequities which LGBTQ youth experience within the County’s foster care system, the Los Angeles LGBT Center developed the groundbreaking RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) Project in 2010. The federally-funded RISE Project is recognized today as one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ programs addressing the disproportionate outcomes for youth in systems of care. With a consistent connection between direct services as well as training and coaching, the Center’s RISE Project is committed to evolving continually into a more robust program and advocating to achieve broader systems of care at local, state, and federal levels.
“It is a heartbreaking fact that significant numbers of LGBTQ+ children and youth are abused and neglected by their families simply because of who they are,” said DCFS Director Bobby Cagle. “However, we also know families struggle to understand and cope with differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. I greatly appreciate the support of the Board of Supervisors for this initial funding to build a system of education, prevention, early intervention, supports, and development of specific placements for our LGBTQ+ children, youth and families. I believe this is a solid foundation on which to build a more proactive and holistic system of care for this underserved population.”
To learn more on how to support LGBTQ+ foster youth, visit lalgbtcenter.org/rise.