Services to LGBTQI+ Youth in Care
The youth in the care of Illinois DCFS have the legal right to be free from verbal, emotional and physical harassment in their placements, schools and communities; and the adults involved in their care have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure that they are safe and protected. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth have the right to be treated equally, to express their gender identity and to have the choice to be open or private about their sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity.
In 2003 Illinois DCFS became the first child welfare agency in the nation to develop an LGBTQI+ youth service policy; and in 2017 enhanced procedures were adopted to mandate annual LGBTQI+ training for anyone involved with LGBTQI+ children and youth in care and to clarify protections for transgender/gender expansive youth in care.
To read the full procedure, click here: Procedure 302. Appendix K: Support and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Questioning (LGBTQ) Children and Youth.
How to be an ally for LGBTQ youth
An ally is someone who does not identify as LGBTQI+ but is supportive of the community. There are many ways you can show your support for the LGBTQI+ community, including:
- Being open and receptive to learning about your LGBTQI+ loved ones and their lives.
- Speaking up if you hear anti-LGBTQI+ jokes or other hurtful language.
- Integrating inclusive language into your everyday conversations.
- Attending Pride celebrations and other LGBTQI+ events.
The Coming Out as a Supporter resource offers facts, strategies and additional ways you can show your support as an ally for LGBTQI+ equality.
The Human Rights Campaign and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation together serve as America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQI+ equality. The Human Rights Campaign envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
The Caring for LGBTQ Children & Youth guide for child welfare providers provides information about the care and support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children and youth in out-of-home care.
Lambda Legal raises awareness and advances reform on behalf of LGBTQI+ youth in child welfare, juvenile justice and homeless systems of care and aims to increase the will and capacity of youth-serving organizations to prepare and support LGBTQI+ youth as they transition from adolescence to independence. Youth in foster care or juvenile justice systems who are LGBTQI+ or living with HIV have basic rights. Read about them here. Lambda Legal’s publications addressing the challenges faced by LGBTQI+ youth in care are available to download or order free of charge.
Center on Halsted
Center on Halsted provides a safe and welcoming environment for Chicago's LGBTQI+ and allied community. The center offers a vast array of programs and services, from cooking classes, yoga and volleyball games to job placement, HIV testing and group therapy, to enrich the lives of the more than 1,000 people who visit Center on Halsted every day. For information about upcoming events, click here.
Need help or want to know more?
The DCFS LGBTQI+ Specialty Services team is a resource for youth in care and DCFS and private agency staff. The team may be reached at 312-814-8741. You may also download, print and share these resources: