HHS Proposes Eliminating Data Collection on LGBTQ Foster Youth and Parents

Family Equality Council, Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign members denounce “HHS’ abdication of its statutory responsibilities to promote the safety, well-being, and permanency of foster youth, including those who are LGBTQ.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)  announced yesterday that it proposes removing data elements on the sexual orientation of of foster youth and foster and adoptive parents and guardians in its Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) data system, as required by a 2016 rule. Family Equality Council, and other advocates who are members of the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign denounced the proposed rule change.

HHS-funded research shows that nearly 1 in 5 foster youth are LGBTQ and report twice the rate of poor treatment in foster care as non-LGBTQ youth.  LGBTQ foster youth also suffer worse outcomes in foster care than their non-LGBTQ counterparts including multiple placements, longer stays in residential care, and greater rates of greater rates of hospitalization for emotional reasons, homelessness, and criminal justice involvement.

“By deciding not to collect data on LGBTQ youth, HHS is abdicating its statutory responsibilities to promote the safety, well-being, and permanency of LGBTQ foster youth,” said Julie Kruse, director of federal policy at Family Equality Council. “States, tribes and agencies cannot improve care and outcomes for youth if they do not have data to measure their efforts.”

“Solving a 21st century problem is going to require a 21st century solution – without full and robust data about youth in care we risk can making decisions that don’t best serve their needs,” said Schylar Baber, foster alumni and federal policy consultant at Family Equality Council. “There is a critical shortage of foster and adoptive parents for America’s 442,000 foster youth, including the 123,000 youth waiting to be adopted. We’ve waited 25 years for the AFCARS system to be upgraded, I’m not sure we have much more time to wait, because our children are paying the price. Congress must act to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act and promote the well-being of LGBTQ foster and adoptive children and families if HHS will not.”

Denise Brogan-Kator, Family Equality Council’s chief policy officer, stated:  “We need diverse parents for these diverse foster youth. By eliminating data collection on LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents and those who apply to be parents, HHS is limiting agencies’ ability to recruit more and diverse families, and to identify affirming families for LGBTQ foster youth, many of whom have already been rejected by their families of origin.  We are also very concerned about the proposed elimination of Indian Child Welfare Act data collection given our country’s history of failing to provide affirming and effective child welfare services to American Indian and Alaska Native children and families. LGBTQ and two-spirit tribal children may be among those most impacted by this unnecessary proposed change. ”

Members of the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign and allies who oppose the proposed rule change include:

ACF Adoptions
Adopt America Network
Adoption Center
Adoption Rhode Island
Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York
Alaska Center for Resource Families
American Atheists
Athlete Ally
The Center on Colfax
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Child Welfare League of America
Children’s Action Alliance
Children’s Advocacy Alliance (NV)
Children’s Defense Fund
Children’s Rights
Center for Inquiry
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families, Inc.
Consortium for Children
Dallas Fort Worth Foster Parent Association
Equality California
Equality Florida
Equality Maine
Equality North Carolina
Equality Ohio
Family Builders by Adoption
Forum for Equality
FosterAdopt Connect
Foster America
Gay Parent Magazine
Gays with Kids
Georgia Equality
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
Harmony Family Center
The Global Justice Institute
Impact Fund
Interfaith Alliance
Juvenile Law Center
Lambda Legal
Los Angeles LGBT Center
Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange
Movement Advancement Project
National Association of Counsel for Children
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of American Nuns
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Foster Parent Association
National LGBT Cancer Network
National Network for Youth
NJ Parent Caucus
North American Council on Adoptable Children
Northwest Adoption Exchange
Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center
OutFront Minnesota
Pavao Consulting
PFLAG National
Philadelphia Family Pride
Public Justice Center
Religious Institute
SC Equality
SC Pride
Silver State Equality
Spaulding for Children
The Trevor Project
True Colors United
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Voice for Adoption

About Family Equality Council

Family Equality Council advances legal and lived equality for LGBTQ families, and for those who wish to form them, through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. Family Equality Council believes every LGBTQ person should have the right and opportunity to form and sustain a loving family, regardless of who they are or where they live. Learn more at familyequality.org

About the Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign

The Every Child Deserves a Family Campaign is comprised of over 400 child welfare, LGBTQ, faith and allied organizations seeking to end discrimination against LGBTQ youth, parents, and families in foster care and adoption and to promote affirming care for all disadvantaged foster youth.

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Media Contact:

Ed Harris, Chief Communications Officer, Family Equality Council
646-880-3005 x117  / eharris@familyequality.org