Updated: Dec 18, 2019
On Wednesday , June 26th, Hands Across The Water, a private child welfare agency with offices in Ann Arbor and Monroe, proudly announced that it is being recognized in Celebrating Everyday Change-Makers in Child Welfare -- a first-of-its-kind report highlighting more than 70 child welfare agencies across the country that partnered with the HRC Foundation’s All Children - All Families (ACAF) project to improve the services they provide to the LGBTQ community, including children in foster care and prospective foster and adoptive parents. These organizations serve more than 350,000 clients annually in 23 states, and employ nearly 11,000.
Executive Director, Katie Page Sander, stated, “We are immensely proud of our long history of working alongside HRC’s All Children All Families Project promoting inclusivity of all people at Hands Across The Water. Our outspoken advocacy for LGBTQ families and children is central to our work here, helped to distinguish us as ‘innovators’, and is why we have been recognized by HRC for the 8th year in a row. But there is still much more work to do in this area, especially in Michigan. We invite other child welfare agencies in our state with the same commitment to ensuring safety and permanency for children to participate in this project, and commit our enthusiastic support in those efforts.”
“Thousands of committed professionals -- from frontline workers to executives -- know that LGBTQ youth are perfect just the way they are and that removing barriers for potentially qualified LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents is in the best interest of children,” said Alison Delpercio, Director of the HRC Foundation's All Children - All Families Project. “While some of these agencies are taking their first steps toward inclusion and others have been leaders in innovating new approaches, more agencies should look to the policies and practices these organizations are implementing to protect against anti-LGBTQ discrimination and meaningfully engage their communities.”
The agencies featured in this report conducted an internal self-assessment, provided professional development to staff and implemented ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion,” which track policy and practice changes within agencies. Celebrating Everyday Change- Makers features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the strides agencies have made toward becoming fully LGBTQ welcoming and affirming.
● Building a Foundation for Inclusion: 14 organizations
● Solid Foundation for Inclusion: 25 organizations
● Innovative Inclusion: 32 organizations (including Hands Across The Water)
This work could not be more important. LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in foster care and face increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes:
● Up to 30% of youth in foster care are LGBTQ;
● LGBTQ youth are twice as likely to report being treated poorly as their non-LGBTQ peers while in care;
● LGBTQ youth have a greater average number of placements than their non-LGBTQ peers;
● LGBTQ youth are more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to be placed in congregate care, including group homes.
Since 2007, hundreds of child welfare agencies across the U.S. have used ACAF’s resources to enhance their efforts to achieve safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ youth and families. This new effort marks a major step toward improving the services provided to LGBTQ youth and prospective parents.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.