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About the LGBTQ Office of Policy & Practice

ACS LGBTQ

What We Do

The LGBTQ Office raises awareness and ensures that existing services meet the specific needs of LGBTQ young people, who are disproportionately represented in our child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The LGBTQ Office helps implement ACS’ LGBTQ policy throughout the agency and our contract providers. It does so by taking the following system-wide actions:

  • Engaging key stakeholders to assess needs and inform approach
  • Crafting policies and guidance to define agency expectations and include best practices
  • Designing training and coaching strategies to set staff up for success
  • Collecting administrative data and tracking LGBTQ incident reports to build evidence and measure progress, and
  • Innovating programs and providing technical assistance and resources to address new concerns

Why We Exist

The ACS Office of LGBTQ Policy & Practice (LGBTQ Office) exists to improve overall outcomes for LGBTQ children, young people, and adults involved with the New York City child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Recent national studies have found that nearly 1 in 5 young people in foster care, and up to 15% of young people in juvenile justice settings identify as LGBTQ, even though they represent 5-7% of the nation’s overall youth population.
  • High rates of family rejection is the main contributor to this overrepresentation. In fact, 26% of LGBTQ young people are kicked out of their homes and rejected from their birth or foster families solely because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Lacking family acceptance and experiencing abuse at the hands of their families, many LGBTQ youth are removed from their homes and face unique challenges once they are in the child welfare system.
  • LGBTQ youth also experience mistreatment in schools. National studies show that 82% of LGBTQ young people experience some form of mistreatment in the classroom.

Due to rejection at home and in school, a disproportionate number of LGBTQ young people experience homelessness, with studies showing that up to 40% of homeless young people identify as LGBTQ. As a result of pervasive family rejection and homelessness, many homeless youth become victims of commercial sexual exploitation. For more information about LGBTQ youth who have been commercially sexually exploited, download the information bulletin.

History of the ACS LGBTQ Office

The LGBTQ Office was established in September of 2012 and is composed of a team of leading experts who support the system-wide implementation of the agency’s LGBTQ policies and best practices. This Office has developed a national LGBTQ policy and practice model, which has resulted in critical service delivery improvements for LGBTQ stakeholders.

Specifically, this model included developing one of the nation’s most progressive LGBTQ policies, designing model training curricula for thousands of ACS and provider staff, implementing a reporting and monitoring system to identify policy gaps, engaging community stakeholders for ongoing feedback, and offering a wealth of resources to equip staff with the necessary skills to address the specific needs of LGBTQ children and youth.

Since 2001, ACS has welcomed feedback from external community leaders and organizations on strategies to improve the overall health and well-being of the LGBTQ young people in ACS’ care. Through an ongoing collaborative effort with these stakeholders, ACS produced its 2006 LGBTQ Strategic Plan. Since that time, the LGBTQ Office continues to chair an advisory council with community advocates to help envision and build a world where LGBTQ children and youth in ACS care are respected, affirmed, and empowered to transition into healthy, happy, and independent adults.

If you are a community leader or organization interested in getting involved in this effort, contact the LGBTQ Office.

Download the ACS LGBTQ Office palmcard

Back to LGBTQ Support Page