Experiences and Well-Being of Sexual and Gender Diverse Youth in Foster Care in New York City

Disproportionality and Disparities

By Theo G. M. Sandfort

November 10, 2020


This report shares findings from a large-scale study of the New York City foster care system. It explores how many youth in care identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, agender or asexual and intersex and assesses how their experiences in foster care and life — including well-being, placement stability and emotional wellness — differ from other youth in care.  

According to the study: More than one-third of youth in foster care in New York City identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, agender or asexual and intersex. These same youth are more often people of color, overrepresented in care, and more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to be unsatisfied with their experiences in care.

This research underscores how policies and practices must change to accommodate for differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Doing so can help stem further inequities for youth of color, whose representation in the child welfare system is already disproportionately high.

New York City Administration for Children's Services has produced an action plan based on the report. This plan reviews the agency's work supporting LGBTQ youth in care to date and identifies three system-wide goals as well as eight action steps that the agency plans to take next.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

In New York City, identifying as LGBTQ raises the likelihood that a child will end up in care

Identity is complex, intersectional and experiential and each factor of difference can affect how a person encounters the world. In New York City, 24% of all young people identify as LGBTQ.0 In New York City’s foster care system, this same population represents 34.1% of all kids in care. This overrepresentation of LGBTQ kids in care indicates that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression play a role in entering the system.

Findings & Stats

Statements & Quotations