Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or other diverse identity (LGBTQ+) are overrepresented in foster care (Human Rights Campaign, 2015), with at least three studies estimating about 30 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ+ (Baams et al., 2019; Matarese et al., 2021; Sandfort, 2020).1 Therefore, increasing the awareness, knowledge, and skills of social workers and administrators in the child welfare system to effectively meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth and their families is of critical importance. These youth face unique challenges—from familial rejection due to their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity to possible discrimination and abuse while in care. Find resources in this section related to behavioral health concerns and building cultural competence as it relates to working with LGBTQ+ children and youth involved with child welfare.
Advancing Healthy Outcomes: Eight Ways to Promote the Health and Well-Being of LGBTQ+ Youth Involved With Child Welfare Through FFPSA (PDF - 4,649 KB)
Citrin & Martin (2019)
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Outlines eight specific strategies that can be implemented in light of the Family First Prevention Services Act to address disproportionalities and disparities for LGBTQ+ children and families in the child welfare system.
Presents data about the mental health challenges experienced by LGBTQ+ youth, like suicidal ideation and substance use, in addition to resources to support professionals in addressing these topics.
Breaking Barriers to Quality Mental Health Care for LGBTQ Youth
Trevor Project (2020)
Summarizes findings for a longitudinal study indicating LGBTQ+ youth are less likely to access the mental health resources. This executive summary also discusses the specific barriers that prevent LGBTQ+ youth from accessing services.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI+)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Summarizes data about the behavioral health inequities experienced by LGBTQI+-identifying individuals, as well as information about Federal initiatives designed to address these disparities.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Presents audience-specific resources about the behavioral health of LGBTQ+ individuals.
LGBT Training Curricula for Behavioral Health and Primary Care Practitioners
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Provides a compiled list that behavioral health and primary care practitioners can use to improve outcomes for the LGBT community.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Explains the intersectional factors that contribute to negative mental health outcomes for LGBTQI-identifying individuals, as well as active steps that professionals can take to address these health disparities.
1Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2021). Supporting LGBTQ+ youth: A guide for foster parents. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau. https://www. childwelfare.gov/pubs/LGBTQyouth/