Colorado encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to become foster and adoptive parents

July 19, 2021

Right now in Colorado, there are 4,035 children and youth living with a certified kinship or foster family. While reliable data on the number of LGBTQ+ foster parents in Colorado and across the nation is not available, we do know that children and youth thrive regardless of the sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression of their parents. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Fulton v. Pennsylvania, Colorado is reaffirming its commitment to inclusive foster care and adoption policies and encouraging members of the LGBTQ+ community to foster and adopt. 

In Catholic Social Services in Fulton v. Pennsylvania, a case regarding whether taxpayer-funded foster care agencies can discriminate against LGBTQ+ people based on religious beliefs, the Court issued a narrow ruling that highlights the need for strong non-discrimination protections at the federal, state and local levels. Thankfully, Governor Jared Polis signed a strong anti-discrimination bill into law this year. The Equal Access Services for Out of Home Placements Act prohibits denial of services to adoptive or foster parents because of sexual orientation. Additionally, Colorado legislation also prevents discrimination based on religion and other protected characteristics.

At the Colorado Department of Human Services, we are dedicated to ensuring that LGBTQ+ individuals are welcomed and affirmed by all of Colorado’s foster care and adoption communities both as foster and adoptive parents and as young people with lived experience in the foster care system. 

In Colorado, we invite our faith-based agencies to partner with counties in serving all Coloradans. Many faith-based child placement agencies are leading efforts to train their foster parents to provide affirming homes, promote inclusivity for all people, and support LGBTQ+ foster and adoptive parents. Within CDHS, we are proud of our work to create and implement policies to affirm LGBTQ+ youth and welcome LGBTQ+ families. Working side-by-side with child placement agencies, counties and community partners, we are even more inspired to know that we are not alone in these efforts. Together, we’ve been able to implement inclusive foster and adoptive parent recruitment strategies throughout Colorado to ensure children grow up in safe and loving families.

Although Fulton v. Pennsylvania is focused on the rights of adults, children and youth in foster care are also affected by this dispute. The Equal Access Services for Out of Home Placements Act also provides protections to children and youth in foster care.  National research shows that young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are overrepresented within foster care. These children and youth experience foster care for many of the same reasons as other young people in care, but they may have the added layer of trauma that comes with being rejected or mistreated because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Children and youth in foster care need affirming families who will allow them to live authentically and accept them for who they are and who they will become. In addition to affirming a young person’s gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation, children and youth in foster care need to be affirmed and accepted for where they are developmentally and behaviorally, accompanied by an understanding of the trauma inherent to living in foster care. They need parents who affirm and support their cultural and religious beliefs and their relationships with their biological family members. In fact, the federal Family First Prevention Services Act requires children and youth in foster care grow up in a trauma-informed setting. It is impossible to provide trauma-informed care and treatment without affirming a young person’s identity. 

Colorado welcomes and encourages members of the LGBTQ+ community to become foster and adoptive parents, and we advocate for affirming families for all children and youth. It is what every young person deserves and needs in order to thrive. Learn more about our inclusive work on CO4Kids.org/fosterpride.

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