Protecting the Rights and Providing Appropriate Services to LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Out-of-Home Care - Florida

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Rights of LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Foster Care

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.4085; Admin. Code § 65C-46.009

A child in foster care is allowed to enjoy individual dignity, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and the protection of their civil and legal rights.

In regulation: Facility staff shall not do any of the following:

  • Engage in discriminatory treatment or harassment based on a child's race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic.
  • Permit harassment or bullying of children by staff or other youth based on their race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic.

Supports for LGBTQIA2S+ Youth in Care

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 65C-46.008; 65C-46.009

The child-caring agency shall ensure that each child has the individual items necessary for personal hygiene and grooming. These items shall be accessible to each child unless it is unsafe for the child. Each child shall have training in personal care, hygiene, and grooming appropriate to the child's age, gender, gender expression, race, culture, and development.

The child-caring agency shall involve the child in the selection, care, and maintenance of the child's personal clothing, as appropriate to the child's age and ability. The child-caring agency shall allow a child to possess and bring personal belongings. The child-caring agency may limit or supervise the use of these items while the child is in care using the reasonable and prudent parent standard; however, it may not restrict items based on the child's gender identity or expression.

The policies for discipline and behavior management shall emphasize positive, instead of punitive, methods. Facility staff shall not do any of the following:

  • Engage in discriminatory treatment or harassment based on a child's race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic.
  • Permit harassment or bullying of children by staff or other youth based on their race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic.
  • Attempt to change or discourage a child's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Placement Considerations

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-46.012

The child-caring agency shall have written preplacement procedures that include a consideration of the needs of all children in the facility and professional staff expertise.

The admission of each child into the care and custody of the department to a child-caring agency shall follow completion of a preadmission study completed by the child-placing agency. The study shall include the following:

  • A determination that group care is appropriate for the child's needs based upon interviews with the child, parent or guardian, or other persons with relevant information
  • A determination that the child-caring agency proposed for placement can meet the child's needs without negatively impacting the other children within the same facility or disrupting service
  • Orders of court commitment or a voluntary placement agreement with the parents or guardian or child-placing agency
  • A social history of the child, the child's family, and any other information required by the child-caring agency
  • A written placement agreement signed by the parents or guardian or an agency having legal custody of the child€”including financial arrangements€”and regulations and procedures designated to encourage and facilitate parental visits
  • For transgender youth, a determination whether the youth should be placed with the gender listed on their birth certificate or their identified gender, including consideration for the following factors:
    • The physical safety of the youth
    • The emotional well-being of the youth
    • The youth's preference
    • The recommendation of the youth's guardian ad litem
    • The recommendation of the youth's parent when parental rights have not been terminated
    • The recommendation of the youth's case manager
    • The recommendation of the youth's therapist, if applicable

No child shall be denied services by any child-placing agency based on race, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or transgenderism. A child-placing agency has the obligation to place each child in the most suitable setting according to that child's individual needs€”including considering the capacity of the placement to meet the child's needs€”and the needs of the other children already placed in that setting.

Caregiver Qualifications

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-46.011

All direct care staff shall receive a minimum of 21 hours of caregiver preparation training prior to unsupervised contact with children. Topics shall include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

Definitions

Citation: Admin. Code § 65C-46.011

The following definitions apply:

  • 'Gender' or 'gender identity' means a person's internal identification or self-image as male or female. Gender identity may or may not correspond to the gender that is listed on the person's birth certificate. The terms 'male,' 'female,' or 'nonbinary' describe how a person identifies.
  • 'Gender expression' refers to the way a person expresses gender through appearance, dress, grooming habits, mannerisms, and other characteristics.
  • 'Sexual orientation' means a person's emotional or physical attraction to members of the same gender, a different gender, or any gender.
  • 'Transgender' means having a gender identity that is different than the person's gender listed on their birth certificate.