New Report: 172 agencies partner with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s All Children – All Families program, including Paths for Families, and together serve more than 1.4 million clients annually.
Paths for Families is proud to be one of the 136 returning partners and the longest participating agency (non-Court Appointed Special Advocate/CASA).
Calverton, MD (Dec. 15, 2023) – Paths for Families is proud to be one of 172 child welfare organizations participating in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s All Children – All Families (ACAF) program in 2023, as highlighted in a new report. Together, these organizations work to improve the services provided to the LGBTQ+ community, including children in foster care and prospective foster and adoptive parents who are LGBTQ+.
This year alone, this multi-organization partnership assessed 9,500+ policies and practices within child welfare organizations to ensure they meet ACAF best practices criteria — approximately 6,000 more than were assessed when this report was first released in 2019. This allowed for over 1.4 million children, youth, and families across 43 states to benefit from these LGBTQ+ inclusive policies and affirming practices.
“Providing children and families with the most inclusive environment in which to grow should always be the number one priority,” said Phii Regis, Director of HRC’s All Children – All Families Program. “We are grateful for Paths for Families’ work as part of this partnership — together, we can win the fight for equality and build safe and loving communities at the same time.”
“The work of All Children – All Families is woven into the culture of all we do at Paths for Families,” shared Paths for Families’ Founder & CEO, Janice Goldwater. “We want every family we work with to know that they are welcome and will be working with a team who is dedicated to making sure they feel honored, accepted, seen, understood, and affirmed.”
“Unfortunately, we are reminded that there are many spaces where LGBTQ+ children and families don’t feel safe or welcome. Every day we strive to make sure anyone who needs our help and support knows that we are here for every child, every family, every step of the way and our partnership with All Children – All Families has helped us fulfill that,” said Paths for Families’ Chief Program Officer, Lisa Dominguez.
This report comes at a time when LGBTQ+ people, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, are under threat. Laws and policies protecting LGBTQ+ youth in foster care from discrimination are a patchwork from state to state. Only 13 states and the District of Columbia have explicit laws or policies in place to protect foster youth from discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Seven additional states explicitly protect foster youth from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not gender identity. Approximately 1 in 3 youth in foster care are LGBTQ+, and laws that attack them on the basis of sexuality and gender put an already vulnerable community at risk. When they aren’t allowed in homes that support them, LGBTQ+ youth face higher rates of abuse and mistreatment than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. Data shows 44% of LGBTQ+ youth in state custody were removed, ran away, or thrown out of their home for reasons directly related to their identity.
At the same time, there are an overwhelming number of LGBTQ+ families who have at least considered adopting or fostering a child in the future, but 55% of them feared being turned away because of their identity, and only 14% knew of an LGBTQ+-inclusive agency near them. One couple was quoted in the report as having been rejected from two child welfare agencies on the basis of their identity before finally being accepted to foster with an ACAF partner agency: “[I] got rejected twice from two different agencies and I didn’t see how going to another agency was going to make any difference. One day I was just browsing online and I found a foster care licensing agency and they [had] the LGBT flag so I called them and I found that, yeah, they’re inclusive to everybody. It’s kind of like it was meant to be.”
With the work of ACAF, a record-breaking 10,650+ professionals were trained in how to make their agencies as inclusive of LGBTQ+ families and youth as possible.
Learn more about the All Children – All Families Program or view the report.
About Paths for Families
Paths for Families is an adoption and family well-being organization that partners with individuals and communities dedicated to the lifelong work of building and sustaining families. For more than 30 years, we’ve been here for expectant parents exploring adoption, birth parents, prospective and current adoptive families, children in need of adoption, people who were adopted, and professionals in the community. With the understanding that every path is unique, we enhance and support the wellbeing of children and families through placement services, counseling, and training. With a focus on nurturing positive and restorative experiences, we bring dedicated, technical expertise and trauma-informed, evidence-based practices to the communities we serve. On a systemic level, we share our training with professionals in child welfare and the broader community to build more trauma-responsive systems of care. We treat everyone with the understanding, kindness, and respect we believe all humans deserve. This is the compass that guides us in our work, putting human dignity and ethical practices at the forefront of everything we do for children, families, and their communities so they can genuinely feel they are not alone on this journey.