Review Highlights Research, Policy and Practices to Best Serve LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care

Posted September 22, 2016, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

As the child welfare field responds to the growing number of older youth who are coming into foster care, new research, policies and practices are emerging that point the way to how child welfare agencies can most effectively serve those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ).

The Annie E. Casey Foundation has captured and synthesized an array of research and materials in a recently released literature review to help raise awareness and broaden the reach of this work.

As child welfare agencies strive to most effectively care for children and young people, we at Casey believe lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth and their families deserve to be affirmed and supported — and must be free from discrimination. 

Research shows that youth who are LGBTQ are significantly overrepresented in foster care. They are more likely to be placed in group facilities and experience more placement disruptions than youth who are not LGBTQ. In addition, they face the same racial inequities and disparities as others in the foster care system.

Many of the best practices documented in the Casey Foundation’s Every Kid Needs a Family policy report will effectively serve youth who are LGBTQ. These practices will keep young people safely with their own families, prioritize placement with relatives and foster families and build strong, permanent family relationships.

Meanwhile, it’s critical to ensure that youth who are LGBTQ have good outcomes and are treated equitably. Child welfare systems need equitable, inclusive solutions tailored to young people of all races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions.

Read the literature review