The National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council released a brief this month titled “A Historic Opportunity to Reform the Child Welfare System: Youth & Alumni Priorities on Special Populations.” This brief was meant to discuss provisions in the Family First Prevention Services Act, Family First Act, for youth considered to be a part of the special populations and to elevate policy changes that would better support those in the special populations.
According to the Family First Act, those in the special population include young people at risk of sex-trafficking, young people who have experienced sex-trafficking, expectant and parenting youth who themselves are in foster care, and homeless youth. These populations are less likely to be served, and they face a higher risk of adverse health and well-being outcomes. The Family First Act has included special provisions for these populations, but the Council also considers other special populations at risk and in need of assistance such as youth who age out of care without permanency are at risk of homelessness and sexual exploitation; youth dually involved in child welfare and juvenile justice; LGBTQIA2-S youth, particularly, transgender youth and most notably Black transgendered youth; unaccompanied youth from other countries; and youth who lack social capital. The Council has identified six areas of priority for special populations that need to be addressed. Those areas of priorities are:
- Train staff, caregivers, and youth themselves on how to protect youth from sex trafficking.
- Prioritize gender-equitable policies that ensure all expecting and/or parenting youth receive access to legal, prevention, and independent living services.
- Youth who have been abused or neglected are not automatically delinquents; youth who enter juvenile justice should maintain support from child welfare.
- Promote inclusive spaces and mandate training on LGBTQIA2-S so that youth who identify as LGBTQIA2-S feel comfortable, safe, and supported.
- When states and jurisdictions are considering Family First Act candidacy for prevention services, youth with diminished social capital should not be overlooked as candidates for services.
- Acknowledge and Implement Cultural Awareness and Inclusivity.
For more information, or to view other Council priorities, visit NationalPolicyCouncil.org.