Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ work for the QIC-LGBTQ2S grant is being rolled out as a collaborative effort between the county’s Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) and members of our contracted provider network. In this effort, we will be implementing and evaluating two primary interventions that aim to improve safety, permanency and wellbeing for LGBTQ2S youth in out of home care.
Allegheny County’s first intervention, Affirmative Caregiving, involves a partnership between CYF, our sole kinship care provider (A Second Chance, Inc.), and foster care providers who are part of our Families for Teens program, a specialized program that focuses on the recruitment of resource families for youth ages 12 to 21 (Auberle, Pressley Ridge, Three Rivers Adoption Council, and Wesley Family Services). This will include the roll out of a curriculum-based intervention designed to help caregivers celebrate, honor and validate a range of LGBTQ2S identities and experiences and recognize the impact of macro-level forces, including heterosexism, cisgenderism, and homo/bi/transphobia, on the well-being of LGBTQ2S children and youth.
Allegheny County’s second intervention, Steps2Connect, is an in-home, team-based approach designed to support caregivers and family members of LGBTQ2S children and youth when the caregivers or other family members are struggling to accept the child or youth’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This intervention will be delivered through a partnership between OCYF, Family Builders, Persad Center, the Youth Support Partner Unit and the Allegheny Family Network.
Allegheny County has been intentionally working to improve practice within the child welfare system to support the healthy development of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression for ALL children since 2013. Supporting caregivers is an essential piece of that work, and we hope to be able to increase our county’s capacity to provide loving, supportive and affirming families for all LGBTQ2S youth, with the ultimate goal of maintaining, repairing, and building permanent family connections.