In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a motion aimed at improving the experience and outcomes for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system.“[It’s] amazing to see folks from across L.A. County really in support of LGBTQ rights,” said Jenny Dang Vinopal, executive director of the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI), a nonprofit that organized youth advocates to address the board ahead of vote at Tuesday’s meeting. “The young people spoke and the Board of Supervisors heard.”The motion, co-authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, directs five county agencies that have high contact with systems-involved LGBTQ youth to identify and assess the existing programs, services and training focused on serving this group. The county’s child welfare, probation, and health agencies must report back to the board in three months with an inventory of the services already in place and suggestions for further resources and training needed.This move by the county follows a 2014 report from the Williams Institute that found LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in L.A.’s child welfare system and that their experiences are worse than their non-LGBTQ peers in the system. According to the report, 19 percent of foster youth identify as LGBTQ; outside of foster care, 7 to 8 percent of youth identify as LGBTQ. On average, LGBTQ foster youth move placements more often and are significantly more likely to be hospitalized for emotional reasons, live in a group home setting, and struggle with homelessness.In response to this data, the county hired consultants to identify how these issues could be best addressed. The major takeaway from this “LGBTQ Preparedness Scan,” Kuehl said, was a need for more in-depth and widespread training around working with LGBTQ youth and their families, as well as greater integration between the county departments who interface with this group.“Each one of these departments, in its own way, is paying attention to this population, but there has not been a lot of coordination or overview,” Kuehl said in an interview with The Chronicle of Social Change.
10 January 2018