Press Release

Press Release State of Emergency for LGBTQ Youth in the MA Child Welfare System

New report details pervasive threats to safety, wellbeing, and permanency faced by LGBTQ youth and provides critical recommendations for the Department of Children and Families
For immediate release:
8/03/2021
  • Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

Media Contact for State of Emergency for LGBTQ Youth in the MA Child Welfare System

Jo Trigilio, PhD, Interim Executive Director

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth has released a new report, LGBTQ Youth in the Massachusetts Child Welfare System: A Report on Pervasive Threats to Safety, Wellbeing, and Permanency, which describes a state of emergency facing LGBTQ youth in the state’s child welfare system. The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth is an independent state agency that advises others in state government on effective policies, programs, and resources for LGBTQ youth.

Drawn from national research, public records, and interviews with service providers, child welfare professionals, foster parents, and youth and young adults with lived experience of Department of Children and Families (DCF) involvement, the report highlights alarming structural failures for LGBTQ youth including:

  • Failure to keep LGBTQ foster youth safe and to protect them from violence, abuse, and risks associated with intimate partner violence and exploitation, particularly for youth ingroup care settings
  • Inappropriate placements and frequent moves, including failure to place transgender youth according to their gender identity
  • Long delays in accessing medically necessary care
  • Barriers to education
  • An insufficient number and a lack of tracking of LGBTQ affirming foster homes

As the report demonstrates through the voices of young people and their advocates, the harm from these failures is profound. It also falls particularly heavily on transgender and Black and Brown LGBQ youth, who encounter disparate access to resources and persistent biases throughout the child welfare system.

“It is unusual for the Commission to issue a report describing the plight of youth involved with a single state system,” said Sasha Goodfriend, Commission Chair. “We took this extraordinary step because the status quo for LGBTQ youth in DCF care is an emergency. Not a week passes without the Commission hearing a serious concern from foster parents, social workers, or youth who are or were in DCF custody about how poorly LGBTQ youth are faring in DCF systems.”

The report details key recommendations for urgent changes at DCF to improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth and ensure they survive and can thrive. Those recommendations include:

  • Universal, best practice data collection and reporting on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGIE) of youth in
  • DCF care
  • Consistent and timely access to gender affirming care
  • Creation of a comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination policy
  • A formal system for identifying, recruiting, and reviewing LGBTQ affirming homes
  • Training and resources for staff, providers and caregivers

The Commission has issued annual recommendations to DCF since FY2011 around SOGIE data collection, comprehensive nondiscrimination policies, training and resources for staff, and structural changes to place youth in affirming homes,” said Jo Trigilio, the Commission’s Interim Executive Director. “This report highlights the urgency in implementing these critically necessary changes. The Commission remains eager to serve as a partner to DCF and other government stakeholders in doing so.”

We implore DCF along with the Governor, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, the Office of the Child Advocate, the Department of Early Education and Care, and the Legislature to join us in ensuring safety and advancing equity for DCF-involved LGBTQ youth,” added Goodfriend. “The stakes are too high for continued inaction.”

###

Media Contact for State of Emergency for LGBTQ Youth in the MA Child Welfare System

Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth 

The Commission is an independent state agency that helps all youth thrive.
Feedback