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Home > Culture/Diversity > Sexual Orientation/Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth Issues > About the Program


Sexual Orientation/Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth Issues: About this Area of Focus

Fostering Transitions: CWLA/Lambda Joint Initiative to Support LGBTQ Youth and Adults Involved with the Child Welfare System

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), in partnership with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund are working together to build the child welfare system's capacity to deal equitably and constructively with young people, family members, and employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexual orientation (LGBTQ), with particular emphasis on those making the transition to adulthood.

CWLA and Lambda are uniquely positioned to initiate and integrate this positive transition within the system that serves America's most vulnerable young people and their families; we can lead while we learn. CWLA is the nation's oldest and largest advocate for children and youth, with a membership of nearly 800 public and private agencies, including every state child welfare system. Lambda is the country's oldest and largest civil rights organization for LGBTQ people and people with HIV and AIDS. Lambda is known for such landmark cases as the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down the Texas same-sex sodomy law, and its groundbreaking work on foster care, including its 2001 publication Youth in the Margins: A Report on the Unmet Needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adolescents in Foster Care. Through our joint initiative, CWLA and Lambda are working to make life better for the LGBTQ young people, their families, and child welfare staff.

Over three years, we will
  • Raise the level of positive awareness and promote improved attitudes, knowledge, and skills throughout the child welfare system, beginning with CWLA's own staff, leadership, board, and members.

  • Hire a qualified, full-time CWLA staff member with LGBTQ expertise and an understanding of the transition process.

  • Identify and enlist an advisory network of member agencies that will work with CWLA and Lambda Legal staff to support this initiative.

  • Facilitate member-to-member connections to create an environment of peer support for the transition process, and establish regional networks for peer support and modeling in CWLA's six regions.

  • Convene regional listening forums that include young people and family members, as well as administrators and staff at various levels.

  • Develop a support process for employees in transition, including peer support, and build this first into internal activities with CWLA's own staff and board, then into the conference, training, and technical assistance schedule.

  • Work with Lambda Legal to monitor public policy at the state and national levels and educate lawmakers and opinion shapers to promote constructive policies that promote justice, inclusion, and self-acceptance.
Through CWLA and Lambda's combined efforts, the mainstream of the profession will have embraced the principle of full support for all young people, regardless of sexual orientation, and those who have not yet done so will have adopted this as a goal. As a result, LGBTQ young people will have access to the range of supports and opportunities they need to successfully navigate the transition to adulthood.

Strengthened by support from the Andrus Family Fund, CWLA and Lambda are committed to bringing about a transition that will have enduring nationwide impact on thousands of young people, their families, and their communities. We envision a future in which child welfare professionals, foster parents, and youth are part of the solution, not part of the problem, for all young people involved with the child welfare system.

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