This section provides information about serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, including resources for LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care and resources offering support and guidance for LGBTQ youth and their families. Resources include State and local examples.
- Resources for LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care
- Resources for families of LGBTQ youth
- Working with LGBTQ families in adoption
- Working with LGBTQ youth and families: Behavioral health
2016 RISE Project Care Coordination Team Program Manual
Los Angeles LGBT Center (2016)
Discusses the RISE (Recognize Intervene Support Empower) initiative based in Los Angeles. The manual explains the historical background and lessons learned.
2016 RISE Project Outreach and Relationship Building Program Manual
Los Angeles LGBT Center (2016)
Explains lessons learned regarding program implementation in order to assist child welfare agencies replicate or adapt the outreach and relationship-building component of RISE in local settings. Other volumes of the program manual provide training about social work practice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth as well as supportive families and safe homes.
Ending Conversion Therapy: Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Youth (PDF - 10,783 KB)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015)
Presents research, clinical expertise, and expert consensus on therapeutic practices related to children's and adolescent's sexual orientation and gender identify, and makes the case for eliminating the use of conversion therapy among this population.
Gender and Sexual Orientation in the Family: Implications for the Child Welfare System (PDF - 369 KB)
Washington and Lee Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, 21(1)
Reviews the evidence that suggests the breadwinner/caregiver model fails most families and that men and women are equally capable of parenting children regardless of their sexual orientation. Additionally, the article explores how children develop gender roles, how the gender diversity of parents and children impact development, and the implications of the breadwinner/caregiver ideal for the child welfare system.
Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees. Final Report
Burwick, Oddo, Durso, Friend, & Gates (2014)
Mathematica Policy Research & U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Discusses results of a study of four agencies receiving grants from the Administration for Children and Families' runaway and homeless youth (RHY) Program. The purpose of the study was to learn about programs' strategies for identifying and serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) RHY; the challenges programs face in understanding and addressing the needs of this population; and potential areas for future research. The report includes suggested issues for policymakers and practitioners to consider related to collecting data on, and serving, this population.
Information Packet: LGBTQ Youth Permanency (PDF - 704 KB)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections
Presents an overview of the challenges faced by LGBTQ youth related to finding permanency and offers a factsheet, best practice tips, a description of a model program, a listing of websites and resources, and an overview of relevant policy and legislation. A topical bibliography on LGBTQ youth and permanency is also included.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ)
Capacity Building Center for States
Helps States and territories build the capacity to more effectively serve and support LGBTQ youth and foster and adoptive families. Resources include publications, videos, and webinars.
- Toolkit to Support Child Welfare Agencies in Serving LGBTQ Children, Youth, and Families
- Redefining Myself: Finding Normalcy After Congregate Care
- Helping LGBTQ Families Navigate the Child Welfare System (PDF - 121 KB)
- Supporting Transgender Children and Youth Involved in the Court System (PDF - 107 KB)
- Affirming and Supporting LGBTQ Children and Youth in Child Welfare (PDF - 236 KB)
- Considerations for LGBTQ Children and Youth in Foster Care: Exploring Normalcy as It Relates to P.L. 113–183 (PDF - 139 KB)
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: A Guide to Juvenile Detention Reform #11
Annie E. Casey Foundation, Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
Provides an overview of key concepts and terminology related to sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression; summarizes the research on the effect of stigma and bias on the health and well-being of LGBT youth, the drivers contributing to their disproportionate involvement in the justice system, and the harmful and unfair practices to which they are subjected in the system; identifies policies and procedures to prohibit discrimination, prevent harm, and promote fair and equitable treatment of LGBT youth who are arrested and referred to juvenile justice agencies; and provides guidance on policies and practices required to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBT youth in detention facilities.
LGBTQ Youth of Color: Discipline Disparities, School Push-Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline (PDF - 2,259 KB)
Burdge, Licona, & Hyemingway (2014)
Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Crossroads Collaborative at the University of Arizona
Describes the school-to-prison pipeline, a set of school policies and practices that push students away from education and on to a pathway toward juvenile detention and the prison industrial complex. This study shows that LGBTQ youth of color in particular face persistent and frequent harassment and bias-based bullying from peers and school staff, as well as increased surveillance and policing, relatively greater incidents of harsh school discipline, and consistent blame for their own victimization.
A Place of Respect: A Guide For Group Care Facilities Serving Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth (PDF - 589 KB)
Marksamer, Spade, & Arkles (2011)
National Center for Lesbian Rights & Sylvia Rivera Law Project
Offers information and tools to help group care facilities provide transgender and gender nonconforming youth with appropriate and informed care. The guide also explains group care facilities' legal responsibilities towards the youth they serve and provides best practices for working with transgender and gender nonconforming youth.
A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children (PDF - 1,434 KB)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014)
Describes a family-oriented approach to services and care for professionals who work with families with LGBTQ children and youth based on research from the Family Acceptance Project. This resource guide provides practice guidelines and resources for engaging diverse families to decrease the risk for suicide, homelessness, HIV and to promote well-being for LGBTQ children and youth.
Promoting Cultural Diversity and Cultural and Linguistic Competency: Self-Assessment Checklist for Personnel Providing Services and Supports to LGBTQ Youth and Their Families
Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, National Center for Cultural Competence (2012)
Intends to heighten the awareness and sensitivity of personnel to the importance of cultural diversity and cultural competence in human service settings, particularly when assisting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and their families. This self-assessment checklist provides concrete examples of the kinds of values and practices that foster an environment in which LGBTQ youth and their families feel supported and asks practitioners to rate themselves
Reaching Higher: Increasing Competency in Practice With LGBTQ Youth in Child Welfare Systems. Facilitators Curriculum Guide (PDF - 803 KB)
National Center for Child Welfare Excellence (NCCWE) (2014)
Provides curriculum to increase the competence for all types of child welfare staff: staff providing child protection services; foster care, kinship care, guardianship, and adoption services; and permanency planning and transitional living services. The curriculum is meant to enhance the skills of child welfare staff working with LGBTQ youth—regardless of where the youth resides or the legal status of the case.
Recognizing and Addressing LGBTQ Issues
American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Children's Rights Litigation
Discusses how attorneys, caseworkers, and other involved adults can help LGBTQ youth in foster care and provides information on key terms and concepts, strategies for identifying LGBTQ youth in care, and the increased difficulties faced by LGBTQ youth in cared.
Recommended Practices to Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living With HIV in Child Welfare Settings
Child Welfare League of America (2012)
Provides guidance to State and local child welfare agencies on how to fulfill their professional and legal obligations to ensure safe and proper care consistent with the best interest and special needs of LGBTQ children in the child welfare system. Specific steps for implementing each of the recommendations are described.
Representing Transgender Youth: Learning From Mae's Journey (PDF - 48 KB)
ABA Child Law Practice, 29(11)
Presents advocacy tips and best practices for legal practitioners working with transgender youth and provides information on the rights of transgender youth in foster care, placement issues, medical and therapeutic services, and school services. The article explores these topics through the story of a transgender youth and her experiences with child welfare.
Resources to Support Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families
National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families (2013)
Offers information for service providers, educators, policymakers, youth, families, community members, and others who seek to support the health and well-being of children and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and two-spirit (LGBTQI2-S) and their families. This toolkit includes a range of resources such as practice recommendations, reports, guides, existing toolkits, videos, and web-based information.
Sharing Our Lived Experiences: 22 Tips for Caring for Two-Spirit and Native LGBTQ Youth in the Child Welfare System
National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes & National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2014)
View Abstract and Document
Explains that Two-Spirit is a Native American term that is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit, and that historically and culturally such people were respected and considered holy by their tribes. The challenges faced by Two-Spirit Native people today are then described and tips are provided for caring for Two-Spirit and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Native youth in the child welfare system.
Twenty Things Supervisors Can Do to Support Workers to Competently Practice with LGBTQ Children, Youth, and Families (PDF - 126 KB)
National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections (2014)
Describes techniques child welfare supervisors can use to support social workers working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or and questioning (LGBTQ) children, youth, and families.
Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Systems
National Center for Lesbian Rights
Provides publications related to LGBTQ youth receiving child welfare services that deal with legal issues and questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. The publications include model policies and guidelines to help agencies and professionals better serve LGBTQ youth, information on legal rights and advocating for youth, and more.
Representing LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care and Juvenile Justice Systems
The Legal Aid Society
Explores how The Legal Aid Society in New York City overcame challenges through internal constructive criticism and formulated a concrete action plan to improve its cultural competency and services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
Working With Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning/Queer Youth (PDF - 1,751 KB)
Minnesota Department of Human Services (2012)
Offers a practice guide that aims to increase awareness, knowledge, and skills among social workers and administrators in Minnesota so they may effectively and competently meet the needs of LGBTQ youth and their families. The guide includes a glossary of LGBTQ terms and a list of State and local resources.