The efforts of collective advocacy by members of the Keeping Kids Safe Campaign have accomplished what we set out to do – lay the groundwork for a safer Foster Care System for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning kids who are entrusted to Utah's Foster Care System. In responding to the needs of both out of home youth, and the staff and caregivers in our system administrators at DCFS have created a comprehensive policy that includes Best Practices designed to support the unique needs of LGBTQ kids. The training collaboration between Utah Pride and DCFS staff, administrators and Foster Parents will continue to transcend the historical silence on issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and ensure that the capacity of the system to better meet the needs of all children and youth is increased.
In March 2012, the Keeping Kids Safe Campaign Summit brought together 150 individuals – those most closely involved in the lives of children in Utah's foster care system for LGBTQ Safety: An Out-of-Home Providers Summit. The summit:
- Gathered 150 stakeholders in the Foster Care System for a historic event to have a dialogue about the needs of and provide training/workshops to increase understanding for LGBTQ children in out-of-home care.
- Conducted 5 focus groups co-sponsored by Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to engage Foster Parents, Foster Youth, Case Workers and Administrators along with community partners to identify the safety gaps for LGBTQ kids in out of home care - and generate recommendations to improve services.
- Launched our campaign with pledges and commitment from those who participated, along with those who we have trained in the field to work collaboratively to promote policy protections for LGBTQ kids in out of home care.
Following the summit, campaign stakeholders have:
- Worked collaboratively to research best practices and policy models around the country to inform a set of protections that Utah's DCFS system can implement to guide staff and caregivers to increasing the safety and well being of LGBTQ children in care.
- Drafted a comprehensive policy to keep Utah's Child Welfare System one of the strongest in the country by closing a critical practice area gap for marginalized youth.
- Developed a report based on local and national research that supports Utah's steps in joining a national movement of policy protections to ensure the well being of all children and youth the system serves.
The campaign consolidates research that captures the systemic intersections of the considerations for LGBTQ youth in our child welfare system, homeless youth and youth who are most vulnerable for suicide attempts; and makes specific recommendations to strengthen the child welfare system and build capacity for providers of intersecting agencies. For a copy of the report click here: Coming Home: Supporting LGBTQ Children in Utah's Foster Care System
The report is endorsed by:
- National Association of Social Workers, Utah
- National Association on Mental Illness, Utah
- Volunteers of America, Utah
- Salt Lake Mayor's Commission on Youth
- Utah Foster and Adoptive Families Association
Stakeholders of the campaign look forward to the introduction of new LGBTQ Child Safety practice guideline for staff in the Division of Child and Family Services to be introduced in the fall of 2012.
For more information on the Keeping Kids Safe Campaign