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CWLA and Lambda Partner in Effort to Help LGBTQ Foster Youth Transition into Adulthood

For more information, contact
Joyce Johnson
Phone: 804/492-4519
Cell: 703/980-7641

August 29, 2003, Washington, DC -- The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (Lambda) have launched a historic partnership to fundamentally change the way lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are treated in the nation's foster care system. The three-year venture, "Fostering Transitions: CWLA/Lambda Joint Initiative To Support LGBTQ Youth and Adults Involved with the Child Welfare System," is supported by a grant from the Andrus Family Fund.

>From neglect to sexual assault to brutal beatings and attempts at "conversion therapy," lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning ("LGBTQ") youth in foster care are often unsupported, unprotected and unsafe. As a result, many become adults and age out of the foster care system badly damaged and unequipped to become healthy, productive members of society.

The CWLA/Lambda Joint Initiative will, for the first time, make LGBTQ youth a clear priority for child welfare agencies nationwide. Lambda and CWLA will create a local and national structure to increase the will and capacity of these agencies to serve and support LGBTQ youth, and will substantially improve training, publications, model programs and develop other tools to help agencies address LGBTQ youth issues.

"The powerful combination of Lambda's leadership on LGBTQ youth issues and CWLA's access and expertise with local child welfare agencies put the partnering organizations in a unique position to improve thousands of young people's lives," said Shay Bilchik, President & CEO of CWLA.

A national LGBTQ Advisory Network, comprised of CWLA member agencies representing each of CWLA's six regions, will help guide these efforts. In order to gain insight as to the most pressing needs facing local communities, at least one Listening Forum will be held in each region.

"The partnership between Lambda and CWLA is a critical first step in reaching a very vulnerable LGBTQ youth community. We are excited about the possibilities this joint project will bring," said Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney at Lambda Legal.

As a first step, CWLA has hired a full-time staff member to work on the Joint Initiative to develop resources and provide direct assistance on LGBTQ issues to all of CWLA's member agencies, which include public and private agencies and every state child welfare system.

Established in 1920, and headquartered in Washington, DC, CWLA strives to advance sound public policy on behalf of the more than three million abused, neglected, and vulnerable children served by its nearly 1,100 member agencies. CWLA's mission is to preserve, protect, and promote the well-being of all children and families.

Lambda Legal is the nation's oldest and largest legal organization dedicated to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people and people with HIV or AIDS. In addition to its New York headquarters, Lambda Legal has regional offices in Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas.

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Child Welfare League of America National Headquarters, 440 First Street, NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC 20001, Phone: 202/638-2952, Fax: 202/638-4004.

Lambda Legal National Headquarters 120 Wall Street, Suite 1500 | New York, NY 10005-3904 | t. 212/809-8585 | f. 212/809-0055

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