President Biden’s proclamation of May as National Foster Care Month returns to the inclusion begun by President Obama, with a mention of LGBTQ youth in foster care—and a reminder of the challenges that remain to bring equity and justice to our foster care system.
Biden’s proclamation stresses the unjust treatment of communities of color, especially Black and Native American communities, in the child welfare system, and also notes that children with disabilities are over-represented among youth in care and may not get the individualized support they need. It then says, “Children in foster care—particularly youth of color and LGBTQ+ children who are already subject to disproportionate rates of school discipline and criminalization—are also at an increased risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system. And for LGBTQ+ foster youth, foster care systems are not always equipped to safely meet their needs.”
Back in 2015, President Obama’s proclamation of the observance noted that “It is important to ensure all qualified caregivers have the opportunity to serve as foster or adoptive parents, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.” That was the first time LGBTQ people had been referenced in a presidential National Foster Care Month proclamation. The next year, Obama’s proclamation said much the same again, and added a point about LGBTQ youth as well: “When we create environments for all young people to grow and flourish and safely live as who they are—regardless of race, background, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity—our country is stronger.”
The guy in between Obama and Biden? Not so much with the inclusion.
Biden’s proclamation promises that:
My Administration is committed to addressing these entrenched problems in our Nation’s child welfare system, advancing equity and racial justice for every child and family who is touched by the foster care and child welfare system, and focusing on policies that improve child and family well-being. This is why my Administration’s discretionary funding request for 2022 includes $100 million in competitive grants for State and local child welfare systems to advance racial equity and prevent unnecessary child removals.
Let’s hope he (and Congress) can deliver. Additionally, protecting LGBTQ youth in care and LGBTQ prospective caregivers from discrimination will be helped by:
- Passing federal legislation like the Equality Act;
- Fighting state attempts to enact legislation that allows discrimination in foster care;
- A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia confirming that child service agencies cannot use their religious beliefs to discriminate against LGBTQ people and others. A decision is expected by the end of June.
Stay tuned this month for more resources and stories about foster care!