UCAN Recognized by Human Rights Campaign Foundation for LGBTQ+ Inclusion Efforts
UCC-related UCAN has been recognized in 2021 Change-Makers by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. HRC annouced the Change-Makers in its third annual report, which highlights 119 child welfare agencies across the United States that have worked with the HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families (ACAF) program to improve the services they provide to the LGBTQ+ community, including children in foster care, 1 in 3 of whom are LGBTQ+, and prospective foster and adoptive parents. These organizations serve more than one million clients annually in 35 states and employ more than 24,000 employees.
UCAN 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. The 2021 Change-Makers report features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the progress agencies have made toward becoming fully welcoming to their LGBTQ+ clients.
The accomplishment comes at a time when many have been sounding the alarm about the particular risks foster youth face due to COVID-19. LGBTQ+ inclusion work in foster care systems could not be more important. Studies have shown us that LGBTQ+ youth are over-represented in foster care, and that child welfare systems must do more to ensure that the trauma of foster care — where LGBTQ youth already face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes — is never compounded by that caused by unsafe and non-affirming foster homes. Here are some statistics:
- Approximately 1 out of every 3 youth in foster care is LGBTQ+.
- LGBTQ+ youth report higher rates of mistreatment while in care.
- LGBTQ+ youth report more frequent placement disruptions.
- LGBTQ+ youth report a higher likelihood of being placed in congregate care settings.
“We are proud and honored to be recognized for our commitment to serving youth in the LGBTQ+ community,” said UCAN President and CEO Christa Hamilton. “We are committed to ensuring that our Continuum of Care — which is the foundation of how we serve and support youth — is key to providing LGBTQ+ adolescents and young adults with therapeutic support through education, counseling, and art therapy, among other resources and counsel. Our staff is focused on assisting youth in their process of self-development through identity exploration, coping and communication skills, development of healthy support systems, and goal setting and achievement. We consider this accreditation to be an endorsement of our approach.”
UCAN is one of 32 new participants this year and met the Building Foundation for Inclusion Tier of Recognition, meaning the agency met foundational criteria, including non-discrimination protections, visual cues in our physical spaces reflecting inclusivity, and staff training completed by nearly 200 UCAN direct service and operations staff. UCAN students led by one of the agency’s interns developed and painted a LGBTQ+ mural at one of the campuses that is home to one of the agency’s therapeutic day schools.
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