Voices for Children is proud to announce that it has been recognized as a top-tier change-maker by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, which just released its third annual Change-Makers report. The local nonprofit organization, which transforms the lives of abused, abandoned, or neglected children by providing them with trained, volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), joins 119 child welfare agencies across the country who have worked with the HRC Foundation’s All Children - All Families (ACAF) program to improve the services they provide to the LGBTQ+ community, including children in foster care (one in three of whom are LGBTQ+). These organizations serve more than 1 million clients annually across 35 states and employ more than 24,000 employees.
“Voices for Children is committed to the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth in foster care and to providing them with exceptional support through the advocacy of our specially trained CASA volunteers,” stated Jessica Muñoz, Esq., MFS, executive director for Voices for Children’s Riverside County program. “Our team is proud to have earned the Innovative Inclusion Tier of Recognition for 2021, and we look forward to continuing to implement the valuable resources and best practices provided by the HRC Foundation.”
Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care and face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes. Agencies and organizations supporting children in foster care must work to ensure that the abuse and neglect these children have experienced that led to their involvement with the child welfare system is never compounded by additional trauma while in foster care. According to the HRC Foundation:
- Approximately one out of every three youth in foster care is LGBTQ+.
- LGBTQ+ youth report higher rates of mistreatment while in foster care.
- LGBTQ+ youth report more frequent placement disruptions.
- LGBTQ+ youth report a higher likelihood of being placed in congregate care settings (group homes).
The agencies who participate in the ACAF program conducted an internal self-assessment, provided professional development to staff, and implemented ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion,” which track policy and practice changes within agencies. The 2021 Change-Makers report features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the progress agencies have made toward becoming fully welcoming to their LGBTQ+ clients.
- Innovative Inclusion: 44 organizations, including Voices for Children, met all 25 applicable criteria and are going beyond to innovate their services for LGBTQ+ youth and families.
- Solid Foundation for Inclusion: 40 organizations met all 25 applicable policy and practice criteria for LGBTQ+ inclusion.
- Building Foundation for Inclusion: 25 organizations met foundational criteria, including non-discrimination protections.
“The third edition of our Change-Makers report shows that, despite the many hardships of the last year, more organizations than ever before are working alongside the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to make impactful change for the LGBTQ+ youth and families they serve,” said Alison Delpercio, Human Rights Campaign Foundation Director, All Children - All Families. “This year’s participants also demonstrated a growing commitment to intersectionality and ensuring organizational policies and practices do not reinforce the same systems of oppression that put youth and families at risk in the first place. By taking on these challenges, the change-makers featured in our 2021 report are models for youth-serving professionals everywhere.”
Since 2007, hundreds of child welfare agencies across the U.S. have used ACAF’s resources to enhance their efforts to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth and families. Read the full report here.
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