October 7, 2021
  • The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) proposed modifications to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS), including the addition of data elements regarding LGBTQ youth. The RPC was asked to summarize research regarding how such data could be valuable for improving services for this subsect of foster youth.
  • Researchers involved with the RPC summarized evidence on LBGTQ youth and provided recommendations for collecting data on this population, which is integral for learning more about their specific needs, challenges, and experiences.
  • Little systematic data on LGBTQ children and their unique needs is currently collected even though this group is over-represented in child welfare.
  • LGBTQ youth in the foster care system have unique needs that should be taken into consideration. Many LGBTQ youth involved in the child welfare system are forced from their homes because of their identity, are more likely to face discrimination within the system, and have an increased need for acceptance and emotional support.
  • LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system are:
    • At higher risk for experiencing homelessness, substance use, and mental and physical health problems, as well as disparities in education and employment.
    • More likely to attempt and complete suicide, live in group homes, have a higher number of home placements, and be hospitalized.
  • When staff working with LGBTQ youth are aware of their clients’ identity, services can be tailored to meet their unique needs and staff can follow best practices of placing individuals in housing according to their gender identity.