First Place Celebrates California’s Progress Supporting LGBTQIA+ Foster Youth

It’s official! On September 23, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 407 into law, marking a significant step forward for the state in recognizing and supporting LGBTQIA+ foster youth. First Place for Youth proudly supports this monumental step towards creating an environment that not only accepts – but actively protects – LGBTQIA+ youth. 

The new legislation mandates that resource families demonstrate their ability and willingness to meet the diverse needs of foster children, including those who identify as LGBTQIA+. The legislation also assigns new responsibilities to the California Department of Social Services and counties with ensuring that LGBTQIA+ youth are not placed in hostile foster homes.  

While California leads the way with SB 407, the Biden-Harris administration has proposed two new rules that hold immense promise for child welfare across America – one of which is particularly significant for LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. For far too long, LGBTQIA+ children have been overrepresented in foster care and have faced disproportionate challenges, including higher rates of homelessness, mental health issues, and discrimination based on their identities.  

The proposed rule by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) aims to rectify these disparities by ensuring that child welfare agencies prioritize the safety and well-being of LGBTQIA+ foster youth. Under this proposed rule, child welfare agencies would be required to place LGBTQIA+ youth in environments free from hostility, mistreatment, or abuse rooted in their LGBTQIA+ status. The rule also places a strong emphasis on training caregivers to fully understand and address the unique needs of LGBTQIA+ youth. 

At First Place, we firmly believe that every young adult, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves a safe and loving home where they can flourish. In our My First Place™ program, we prioritize safety, comfort, and inclusivity in every placement decision. Our approach isn’t only about finding a place for young people; it’s about creating a space where they can truly belong. 

Mariya Libman, Los Angeles County Clinical Program Manager, emphasizes our youth-centered approach: “We ask tough and detailed questions to ensure our placement is accurate, comfortable, and, most importantly, safe for both the individual and their roommate. We approach each placement without preconceived expectations, and we’re dedicated to meeting the unique needs of every individual we serve. Additionally, we ensure that our young people are connected to various support groups within the community.” 

As we celebrate the progress made in California and advocate for similar reforms at the federal level, First Place for Youth remains unwavering in our dedication to championing the rights and well-being of LGBTQIA+ foster youth. We strive for a future where every young person in foster care can thrive and reach their full potential, free from discrimination and prejudice. Together, we can ensure that no young person is denied the care and respect they deserve simply because of who they are. 

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