Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning Foster Care Program
Why is LGBTQ Foster Care Program Needed: It has been suggested that the number one cause of teen suicide is often sexual identity. 26% of gay and lesbian youth are forced to leave home because of conflicts over their sexual orientation. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Service).. Service providers estimate that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth make up 20-40% of homeless youth in urban areas. (The National Network of Runaway and Youth Services). In a study of teenagers self-described as lesbian or bisexual, 27% moved away from home because of conflict with family members over sexual orientation.
FRC has an opportunity to address the needs of youths experiencing these types of issues. Our LGBTQ Foster Care Program will target the needs of homeless and/or “at risk” LGBTQ. FRC has specific services and outreach programs to locate LGBTQ homeless and/or “at risk” youths, help provide acceptance and understanding as well as offer mentoring and counseling to assist them and their families in realizing their full potential with a hopeful end result of reunification with their family.
How We Help: FRC’s LGBTQ Foster Care Program will educate families on acceptance of LGBTQ youth. We will intervene when necessary to reduce the harmful effects of family rejection by providing a safe place for LGBTQ youths to develop self acceptance and build life affirming skills. Family Resource Center’s initial goal is to establish 5 LGBTQ Foster Homes that will have two licensed foster beds each. We will recruit; train and license gay and lesbian foster parents to provide a safe and welcoming home to the underserved LGBTQ youth. We will properly find and match the child to the home and work on the reunification process with the family and child if applicable. YES Institute , has developed an initial course description and syllabus for the Essentials of Orientation for Foster Care Parents that will explore myths and stereotypes about gender, orientation and identity based on the latest research findings. A professional presentation of suggested clinical strategies and current resources demonstrates ways to make a positive difference for youth and families who may feel isolated and afraid. This course will be incorporated into FRC’s Foster Parent training, (M.A.P.P.) and will educate Foster Parents on how to deal with specific LGBTQ issues with their foster child.
Services Provided: To ensure the success of FRC’s LGBTQ Foster Care Program, we will provide support services for both the child and the parent(s). For the parent, we will provide professionally facilitated support groups, mentors and ongoing parenting education and access to a resource directory of gay and gay affirmative care providers including medical, psychological, etc. For the child we will provide medical assessments including HIV testing, counseling as appropriate and/or treatment by gay and/or gay affirmative medical personnel; establish educational assessments and support including tutors, special placements and creation of sheltered classroom options; provide life skills training, including training in negotiation of heterosexual world issues as a sexual minority and safe sexual practices; offer job skills training including a funded internship program with LGBTQ and allied non profits and/or gay owned businesses; and providing mentoring and gay role model options.
The lack of support and attention to LGBTQ homeless and/or “at risk” youth is becoming more prominent in the community. This underserved population needs attention and can no longer be ignored. With the help and recognition of OUR KIDS of Miami-Dade/Monroe and YES Institute, Family Resource Center is able to address this need to help make a difference and establish a new standard in the child welfare system.