Colorado Division of Child Welfare among four local groups recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation

August 26, 2021

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, released a new report, 2021 Change-Makers, highlighting the HRC Foundation All Children-All Families (ACAF) program’s partnership with 119 organizations -- a 19% increase in participation from last year -- working to improve the services they provide to the LGBTQ+ community, including children in foster care, 1 in 3 of whom are LGBTQ+, and prospective foster and adoptive parents. These organizations serve more than 1 million clients annually in 35 states and employ more than 24,000 employees. 

The organizations located in Colorado featured in the report include: 

  • Adams County Department of Human Services - Children & Family Services Division
  • Adoption Options
  • Colorado Office of Children, Youth & Families - Child Welfare Division
  • Raise the Future 

“The third edition of our Change-Makers report shows that, despite the many hardships of the last year, more organizations than ever before are working alongside the Human Rights Campaign Foundation to make impactful change for the LGBTQ+ youth and families they serve,” said Alison Delpercio, Human Rights Campaign Foundation Director, All Children - All Families. “This year’s participants also demonstrated a growing commitment to intersectionality and ensuring organizational policies and practices do not reinforce the same systems of oppression that put youth and families at risk in the first place. By taking on these challenges, the change-makers featured in our 2021 report are models for youth-serving professionals everywhere.” 

The release comes at a time when many have been sounding the alarm about the particular risks foster youth face due to COVID-19. LGBTQ+ inclusion work in foster care systems could not be more important. Studies have shown us that LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in foster care, and that child welfare systems must do more to ensure that the trauma of foster care, where LGBTQ youth already face an increased risk of both negative experiences and outcomes, is never compounded by that caused by unsafe and non-affirming foster homes:

  • Approximately 1 out of every 3 youth in foster care is LGBTQ+
  • LGBTQ+ youth report higher rates of mistreatment while in care 
  • LGBTQ+ youth report more frequent placement disruptions 
  • LGBTQ+ youth report a higher likelihood of being placed in congregate care settings

The agencies featured in this report conducted an internal self-assessment, provided professional development to staff and implemented ACAF’s “Benchmarks of LGBTQ Inclusion,” which track policy and practice changes within agencies. The 2021 Change-Makers report features three “Tiers of Recognition,” which celebrate the progress agencies have made toward becoming fully welcoming to their LGBTQ+ clients. With 32 new participants this year, ACAF also expands the program’s reach into six new states -- Alabama, Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and North Carolina -- and the District of Columbia for the first time. 92% of participants met a tier of recognition, and 14 of the returning organizations advanced to a higher tier of recognition. 

  • Innovative Inclusion: 44 organizations met all 25 applicable criteria and are going beyond to innovate their services for LGBTQ+ youth and families
  • Solid Foundation for Inclusion: 40 organizations met all 25 applicable policy and practice criteria for LGBTQ+ inclusion
  • Building Foundation for Inclusion: 25 organizations met foundational criteria, including non-discrimination protections

The report features profiles of four child welfare organizations that are setting the bar for LGBTQ+ inclusion while adapting to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to calls for an end to systemic racism -- including in child welfare: Vista Del Mar in California; Extraordinary Families in California; Texas Casa in Texas; and 360 Youth Services in Illinois. The report also features interviews with individuals who have been impacted by LGBTQ+-inclusive services, including: Manuel Padilla, a foster parent in Colorado; and Victoria, a former youth in care and now trainer at Lawrence Hall in Illinois. 

Since 2007, hundreds of child welfare agencies across the U.S. have used ACAF’s resources to enhance their efforts to achieve safety, permanency and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth and families. Read the full report here

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people. Through its programs, the HRC Foundation seeks to make transformational change in the everyday lives of LGBTQ+ people, shedding light on inequity and deepening the public’s understanding of LGBTQ+ issues, with a clear focus on advancing transgender and racial justice. Its work has transformed the landscape for more than 15 million workers, 11 million students, more than 1 million clients in the adoption and foster care system and so much more. The HRC Foundation provides direct consultation and technical assistance to institutions and communities, driving the advancement of inclusive policies and practices; it builds the capacity of future leaders and allies through fellowship and training programs; and, with the firm belief that we are stronger working together, it forges partnerships with advocates in the U.S. and around the globe to increase our impact and shape the future of our work.


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