Illinois Sets New Policy For Social Workers, Families To Be ‘LGBT Affirming’ for At-Risk Kids

The Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), which oversees the care of placement of some of the state’s most vulnerable children, has implemented sweeping mandates to promote the “well-being  LGBT children and youth in the Department’s care,” according to new agency guidelines.

The American Civil Liberties Union helped the DCFS design the policy that will affect not only children, staff and volunteers, but also applies to foster families, caseworkers, and even private contractors and their employees that work with the state agency. 

If a child or youth is known to be LGBTQ, the caseworker is responsible for determining prior to placement, the caregiver’s attitudes and beliefs regarding sexual orientation, gender identity/gender expression. In no instance should LGBTQ children/youth be placed with a non-affirming caregiver who is opposed to sexual orientations that differ from the caregiver’s own. Nor should LGBTQ children and youth be placed with caregivers who are unwilling/unable to support children and youth whose gender identity or gender expression differs from traditional expectation…If a caregiver is found to be non-affirming or is otherwise in violation of the nondiscrimination requirements in Appendix K, the youth’s DCFS caseworker must take immediate action to intervene and take appropriate corrective action and contact the LGBTQ Coordinator. (302- Appendix K, section e).

The policies, announced that DCFS staff and volunteers embrace the guidelines, and”will not tolerate exposing LGBTQ children and youth to staff/providers who are not supportive of children and youths’ right to self-determination of sexual/gender identity.” 

The 17-page document “sets mandatory minimum standards to promote the safety, adjustment and well-being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender children and youth in the Department’s care” and prohibits “discrimination, bias, or harassment” on the part of DCFS employees or those of outsourced (purchase of service) agencies toward LGBTQ children, youth and their families. 

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