Family Equality Commends Biden Administration Rule Strengthening Protections for LGBTQI+ Youth in Foster Care

The Department of Health and Human Services’ new rule ‘Designated Placement Requirements for LGBTQI plus Children’ will help provide LGBTQI+ youth in the foster care system.

New York, NY – Today, the Biden Administration finalized a rule that requires Title IV-E/IV/B foster care agencies to ensure all foster care placements are free from harassment, mistreatment, or abuse. The rule specifically requires Title IV-E/IV-B agencies to ensure designated placement are available to meet the needs of LGBTQI+ youth in care. The rule is a significant first step by the administration to protect LGBTQI+ children from harm while in foster care and to hold state agencies, tribes, and the placement providers they utilize, accountable to the LGBTQI+ children they serve.  

The Administration’s final rule clarifies that current federal law requires every child, including LGBTQI+ children, be provided a safe and appropriate foster care placement. Under the new rule, state title IV-E/IV-B agencies must notify all youth over the age of 14, as well as children who have been removed from their homes due to conflict related to their LGBTQI+ identity, that designated placement providers are available for any child who identifies as LGBTQI+. To qualify as a Designated Placement, a provider must support the safety and well-being of LGBTQI+ children and be trained on the specific needs of LGBTQI+ youth. The rule establishes a retaliation provision to protect all youth, including those with actual or perceived LGBTQI+ identity, from harassment, mistreatment, or abuse, including conversion therapy.  

“Far too many LGBTQI+ youth in the child welfare system experience mistreatment and abuse simply because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Jaymes Black, Family Equality President & CEO. “Once yeah are removed from their homes, it becomes the responsibility of child welfare agencies to ensure youth do not experience further harm, but rather have access to safe placements that affirm and support them for who they are.” 

While we applaud the Biden administration for the steps they have taken to address and improve the child welfare system for LGBTQI+ youth in care, we wish this rule went further to protect LGBTQI+ youth and families. Specifically, the rule does not require all providers to become Designated Providers for LGBTQI+ youth but rather they must opt-in to become a Designated Provider and receive LGBTQI+ competency training. For LGBTQI+ youth living in areas without a Designated Provider this is particularly harmful as youth may have to leave their community, family, and school to access a safe placement. The final rule comes after a draft rule that was released in September 2023 which Family Equality, in collaboration with movement partners, commented on. To read our full list of recommendations for a final rule that would support LGBTQI+ youth in child welfare, see our comment here.

Additionally, Family Equality continues to urge the Administration to implement explicit protections that would prohibit discrimination against all individuals in child welfare on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, including LGBTQI+ youth, families of origin, kin, and prospective foster and adoptive parents. We also request sexual orientation and gender identity data elements be added into the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis Reporting System to better understand the experiences of LGBTQI+ youth and families in child welfare.

About Family Equality

Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education.

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