State-by-State Analysis of Child Welfare Systems

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.

            The information in the chart below is a summary of explicit state-based statutory-, regulatory- and policy-based protections, where they exist, against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (“SOGIE”) in the nation’s child welfare system. In jurisdictions without explicit SOGIE protections, the authors have highlighted where youth are explicitly protected from discrimination on account of sex or gender as courts continue to clarify that that sex- or gender-based discrimination includes discrimination on account of gender identity or gender stereotyping. States marked with an asterisk (*) have a policy specific to upholding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and gender-nonconforming (“LGBTQ+”) youth in care, which includes information regarding practice guidelines in addition to a SOGIE-inclusive nondiscrimination clause.

            In addition to explicit nondiscrimination protections found in child welfare-specific statute, regulation or policy, youth in state custody have constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. In some states, counties and cities, state or local public accommodation or human rights laws or ordinances may offer protections to the extent that those measures apply to all or part of the child welfare system. Some child welfare systems are county-based, and due to the large volume of counties in the United States, we have not included nondiscrimination policies at the county level.

            Where available, we provide information regarding rights of children in foster care even if they are not SOGIE-inclusive. We also list grievance procedures and ombudsman offices. If LGBTQ+ youth in care are being mistreated or experiencing discrimination, administrative complaints may serve as a mechanism for addressing harmful treatment, among other advocacy options.

            The authors have attempted to gather all available information, but this is likely not an exhaustive list. Please contact Kaitlyn Gentile, kgentile@lambdalegal.org, if you notice an error or find that we missed a relevant statute, law or agency policy in your jurisdiction. 

Alabama

Alabama has no explicit protection from discrimination on account of sex (or gender), sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in state statute, regulation or agency policy.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits private child placing agencies to “refuse to place a child for adoption or in a foster home that conflicts . . . with their sincerely held religious beliefs,” so long as the agency “receives no federal or state funds.” Ala. Code § 26-10D.

Alabama has a Department of Human Resources ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

None known.

State Agency Website:

http://www.dhr.state.al.us/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
Alabama Department of Human Resources
50 North Ripley Street
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
Phone: (334) 242-1325
Email: fsd@dhr.alabama.gov
http://dhr.alabama.gov/directory/Admin_Hearings.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Alaska

Alaska has no explicit protection from discrimination on account of sex (or gender), sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in state statute, regulation or agency policy.

Alaska has an Office of the Ombudsman for complaints against state government, but it is not specific to child welfare.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:
None known.

State Agency Website:

http://dhss.alaska.gov/ocs/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:
Alaska Office of the Ombudsman
PO Box 102636
Anchorage, Alaska 99510-2636
Phone: (907) 269-5290
Fax: (907) 269-5291
http://ombud.alaska.gov/

Additional Provisions:

Arizona

Arizona has no explicit protection from discrimination on account of sex (or gender), sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in state statute, regulation or agency policy.

Agency policy for independent living services and supports provides that youth should receive services and needed resources related to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Arizona has a state government ombudsman, but he/she handles issues across state government, and is not child welfare-specific.

Statute:

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 8-529
Children in foster care; rights
“A child in foster care has the following rights . . . [t]o live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable placement where the child can receive reasonable protection from harm and appropriate privacy for personal needs and where the child is treated with respect.”

Ariz. Admin. Code R6-5-5829
Daily Care and Treatment of a Foster Child; Foster Child Rights
“2. A foster parent shall permit a foster child to exercise the rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of family life in a manner that is comparable to those exercised by foster family members, subject to:
a. Reasonable and developmentally appropriate household rules, and
b. Restrictions prescribed in a foster child’s case plan and foster care requirements.”

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Arizona Department of Child Safety
Policy and Procedure Manual
Chapter 5, Section 35: Independent Living Services & Supports
“The department shall make every effort to ensure a diverse array of services and resources are identified to assist teens to address their needs, including any special needs or concerns related to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.”
http://bit.ly/2mwwp3m

Arizona Department of Child Safety
Policy and Procedure Manual
Chapter 5, Section 37: Independent Living Subsidy Program
“The Department, in determining eligibility for Independent Living Subsidy, shall not discriminate based on the youth’s race, national origin, ethnicity, religious or spiritual beliefs, gender or perceived gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, child-bearing or parenting status, or for youth age 18 and older, marital status.”
http://bit.ly/2D5IeHc

State Agency Website:

https://dcs.az.gov/

Grievance Procedure
Ombudsman: 
Arizona Ombudsman-Citizens’ Aide
3737 N. 7th Street, Suite 209
Phoenix, Arizona 85014
Phone: (602) 277-7292
Toll-Free: (800) 872-2879
Fax: (602) 277-7312
Email: ombuds@azoca.gov
http://www.azoca.gov/

Additional Provisions:

Arkansas

Arkansas has no explicit protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in state statute, regulation or agency policy.

Gender is a protected class in statutory “Safeguards for children in foster care” and agency policy. In addition, regulation prohibits “derogatory comments” about the child’s gender.

Statute:

Ark. Code Ann. § 9-28-1003
Safeguards for children in foster care
“(b) A child in foster care in the State of Arkansas shall be entitled to the following:
. . .
(20) To be cared for without regard to race, gender, religion, or disability.”

Regulation:

Ark. Admin. Code 016.15.2-205
Child Placing Agencies: Foster Care
Behavior Management.
“4. The following forms of discipline shall not be used:
. . .
d. Derogatory comments about the child, the child’s family, race, or gender[.]”

Ark. Admin. Code 016.15.3-3
Responsibilities of the Foster Care Team
“Children have certain inherent rights based on their special status as children and their inability to care for themselves.
. . .
Responsibilities of foster parents to DCFS, the child, and the child’s family [include] . . . [p]rovid[ing] the level of supervision, care, and treatment necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of each child placed into their home, taking into account the child’s age, individual differences and abilities, surrounding circumstances, hazards, and risks.”

Policy: 

Arkansas Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Services
Policy No. 7001.01.01
DYS Policy, Vision, Mission and Values
“IV. VALUES.
7. All children and youth in the state should have equal opportunities for fairness, help and success without regard for gender, race or ethnicity, disability, geographic location, income level, or any other factor.”
http://bit.ly/2qiY5gj

State Agency Website:

http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/about-dhs/dcfs

Grievance Procedure:
None known.

Ombudsman: 
Division of Child and Family Services
Phone: (501) 682-1569
http://humanservices.arkansas.gov/dcfs/Pages/dcfsServices.aspx

Additional Provisions:

California

California has statutory- and regulatory-based protection from discrimination for youth in the child welfare system inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, California law requires that transgender youth in out-of-home care be placed in accord with identity. State child welfare agency policy also includes protection from discrimination inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The state prohibits the practice of “sexual orientation change efforts” on patients under 18 years of age. The law defines such efforts as “any practices by mental health providers that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation,” inclusive of “behaviors or gender expressions.” Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 865-865.2.

California has a foster care ombudsman.

Statute:

Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code 16001.9
Rights of minors and non-minors in foster care.
“It is the policy of the state that all minors and nonminors in foster care shall have the following rights:
. . .
(23) To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.
(24) To be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in their court or child welfare records.
(25) To have caregivers and child welfare personnel who have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity training relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in out-of-home care.”

Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 16006
Placement according to gender identity
“Children and nonminor dependents in out-of-home care shall be placed according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in their court or child welfare records.”

Regulation:

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 83072
Small Family Homes: Personal Rights
“(c) At admission each child, and his/her authorized representative, shall be personally advised of and given a copy of the child’s rights as specified below:
. . .
(9) To live in a safe, healthy and comfortable home where he or she is treated with respect, in accordance with Section 83072(c)(11).
. . .
(11) To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.”

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 84072
Group Homes: Personal Rights
“(c) At admission each child, and his/her authorized representative, shall be personally advised of and given a copy of the child’s rights as specified below:
. . .
(14) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where he or she is treated with respect, in accordance with Section 84072(c)(16).
. . .
(16) To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.”

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 22, § 88022
Foster Family Agencies: Plan of Operation.
“[T]he plan of operation must contain the following:
. . .
(5) A written description of the foster family agency training plan including:
. . .
(B) Initial and ongoing training of foster family agency staff in the child's right to have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.”

Policy:

California Department of Health and Social Services, All County Information Notice I-81-10, Serving Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender And Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth, LGBTQ Caregivers And LGBTQ Prospective Foster And Adoptive Parents (Oct. 10, 2010)
http://www.cdss.ca.gov/lettersnotices/entres/getinfo/acin/2010/I-81_10.pdf

California Foster Care Ombudsman
Foster Youth Have Rights!
“If you feel you are being harassed or discriminated against because of your sex, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic group, ancestry, national origin, gender identity, mental or physical disability or HIV status, or for any other reason, you should call the Foster Care Ombudsman Help-line for assistance.”
http://www.fosteryouthhelp.ca.gov/Rights2.html

California Department of Social Services
When and How to File a Discrimination Complaint
“California county welfare departments may not discriminate against you on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin (including language), political affiliation, disability, marital status, age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other applicable bases.”
http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Reporting/File-a-Complaint/Discrimination-Complaints

State Agency Website:

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG22.htm

Ombudsman:
California Ombudsman for Foster Care
744 P Street, MS 8-13-25
Sacramento, California 95814
Toll-Free: (877) 846-1602
Email: fosteryouthhelp@dss.ca.gov
http://www.fosteryouthhelp.ca.gov/

Additional Provisions:

Colorado

Colorado has statutory-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system.

Colorado Civil Rights Commission rules prohibit discriminatory or unfair practices in housing and specifically “allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity.” These protections may extend to youth placed in out-of-home care.

Colorado has a child welfare-specific Ombudsman’s office.

Statute:

Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. 19-7-101
Protections for Youth in Foster Care: Legislative declaration
“[Y]outh in foster care . . . should enjoy the following:
. . .
(t) Having fair and equal access to available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits based on his or her treatment plan and not being subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status[.]”

Regulation:

12 Colo. Code Regs. § 2509-7:7.604
ANTI-DISCRIMINATION
“A. County department staff shall not deny a person aid, services, or other benefits or opportunity to participate therein, solely because of age, race, color, religion, creed, sex, national origin, political beliefs, method of payment, sexual orientation, veterans status, or disability.”

12 Colo. Code Regs. § 2509-8:7.708.33
Foster Children’s Rights
“Every foster child has the right to:
1. Enjoy freedom of thought, conscience, cultural and ethnic practice, and religion.
2. A reasonable degree of privacy.
3. Have his or her opinions heard and considered, to the greatest extent possible, when any decisions are being made affecting his/her life.”

12 Colo. Code Regs. § 2509-8:7.714.31
Quality Standards for 24-Hour Child Care: Children’s Rights
“A. The facility shall have written policies and procedures that address and ensure the availability of each of the following core rights for children in residence. These rights may not be restricted or denied by the facility.
. . .
13. Every child has the right to the same consideration for care and treatment as anyone else regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, political affiliation, sexual orientation, financial status or disability.”

3 Colo. Code Regs. § 708-1:81.8
Dress & Grooming Standards.
“Covered entities may prescribe standards of dress or grooming that serve a reasonable business or institutional purpose, provided that they shall not require an individual to dress or groom in a manner inconsistent with the individual’s gender identity.”

3 Colo. Code Regs. § 708-1:81.9
Gender-Segregated Facilities.
“(A) Nothing in the Act prohibits segregation of facilities on the basis of gender.
(B) All covered entities shall allow individuals the use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Gender-segregated facilities include, but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms, and dormitories.
(C) In gender-segregated facilities where undressing in the presence of others occurs, covered entities shall make reasonable accommodations to allow access consistent with an individual’s gender identity.”

Policy:
None known.

State Agency Website:

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdhs/children-families

Grievance Procedure:
http://www.coloradocpo.org/complaint-form/

Ombudsman:
Child Protection Ombudsman of Colorado
Phone: (720) 625-8640
http://www.coloradocpo.org/

Additional Provisions:

Connecticut*

Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families has a nondiscrimination policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQI youth in care. The state also has a best practice guide for working with transgender youth and caregivers.

The state bars health care providers from administering “conversion therapy” to any person under 18 years of age. The law defines conversion therapy as any practice that “seeks to change the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” It characterizes conversion therapy as “an unfair or deceptive trade practice” and bars the expenditure of public funds for its purpose. Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 19a-907-907c.

Connecticut has a child welfare-specific Ombudsman’s office.

Statute: 
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Connecticut Department of Children & Families, Policy 30-9, Non-Discrimination of LGBTQQIAA Individuals (May 14, 2004)
http://www.portal.ct.gov/DCF/Policy-Homepage/Home/Policy-Index-by-Topic
(Click “LGBTQI Individuals, Non-discrimination of, 30-9” from the list.)

Connecticut Department of Children & Families, Working with Transgender Youth and Caregivers Practice Guide 2014 (updated Dec. 2014)
http://www.ct.gov/shp/lib/shp/pdf/Transgender_Practice_Guide.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://www.portal.ct.gov/DCF

Grievance Procedure: 
http://www.portal.ct.gov/DCF/Ombudsman/Home

Ombudsman:
Connecticut Department of Children & Families
Office of the Ombudsman
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Phone: (860) 550-6301
Toll-Free: (866) 637-4737
Fax: (860) 560-7086
http://www.portal.ct.gov/DCF/Ombudsman/Home

Additional Provisions:

Delaware

Delaware has regulatory-based protection from discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or gender expression, for youth in the child welfare system.

Delaware has an Office of the Child Advocate.

The state considers it “unprofessional conduct or a ground for discipline” for any licensed nurse, mental health or chemical dependency professional, psychologist, or clinical social worker to engage in “conversion therapy” with a child. The bill defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” S.B. 65, 149th Leg. (Del. 2018).

Statute:

Del. Code Ann. tit. 13, § 2522
Rights of children in DSCYF custody
“(a) All dependent, neglected and abused children in DSCYF custody under this chapter shall have the following rights in accordance with their ages and developmental levels, unless prohibited by court order:
. . .
(5) To receive appropriate placement services.
. . .
(8) To participate in the formation and maintenance of their foster care service, independent living and transition plans, where applicable.”

Regulation:
Code Del. Regs. 201-7.2
Child Placing Agencies
“An Applicant shall apply for a License on a form provided by the Office of Child Care Licensing and in a manner prescribed by the Office of Child Care Licensing which includes a signed statement which certifies that he or she:
. . .
7.2.5 Will not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, race, religion, cultural heritage, disability, marital status, or economic status.”

Policy:
None known.

State Agency Website:

https://kids.delaware.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
None known.

Ombudsman:
Office of the Child Advocate
Phone: (302) 255-1730
http://courts.state.de.us/childadvocate/

Additional Provisions:

District of Columbia*

The District of Columbia has statutory-, regulatory- and policy- based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. The state also has a nondiscrimination policy specific gender identity and expression.

The District prohibits providers from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” on minors. The law does not define sexual orientation change efforts. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-1231.14a.

The District of Columbia has a child welfare-specific Ombudsman’s office.

Statute:

D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1402.73
Application to the District government.
“Except as otherwise provided for by District law . . . it shall be unlawful discriminatory practice for a District government agency or office to limit or refuse to provide any facility, service, program, or benefit to any individual on the basis of an individual’s actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, disability, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business.”

D.C. Code Ann. § 4-1303.72
Statements of Rights and Responsibilities for Youth in Foster Care.
“[A] Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for youth in foster homes, group homes, and independent living programs [will]
(1) Incorporate existing rights for youth in foster care provided by local law, federal law, local regulations, agency administrative issuances, and other policy documents.”

Regulation:

D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 29, § 6004
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF FOSTER CHILDREN LIVING IN FOSTER HOMES
“6004.1 The following principles and rights are to govern the care and treatment of foster children.
Each child is:
. . .
(g) Not to be subjected to discrimination as provided in the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, effective December 13, 1977 (D.C. Law 2-38; D.C. Official Code §§ 2-1401.01 et. seq.) [The relevant law reads: ‘It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia, in enacting this chapter, to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not limited to, discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, and place of residence or business.’].”

D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 29, § 6203
Licensing of Youth Shelters, Runaway Shelters, Emergency Care Facilities, and Youth Group Homes
STATEMENT OF RESIDENT’S RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
“6203.1 A resident in a facility not intended exclusively for children who have been abused or neglected has the following rights.
. . .
(h) In accordance with the District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, effective December 13, 1977 (D.C. Law 2-38, D.C. Official Code §§ 1-2501 et seq.), not to be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, disability, source of income or place of residence or business.
6203.2 The following principles and rights are to govern the care and treatment of a foster child who is a resident of a facility for children who have been abused or neglected. Each such foster child is:
. . .
(g) Not to be subjected to discrimination as provided in D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, effective December 13, 1977 (D.C. Law 2-38; D.C. Official Code §§ 2-1401.01 et seq.) [The relevant law reads: ‘It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia, in enacting this chapter, to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not limited to, discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, and place of residence or business.’].”

Policy:
D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, Gender Identity and Expression (May 24, 2017)
http://bit.ly/2AUORHn

D.C. Child and Family Services Agency
Statement of Nondiscrimination
“CFSA and our employees, contractors, and other partners do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of actual or perceived: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intra-family offense, or place of residence or business.”
http://cfsa.dc.gov/publication/statement-nondiscrimination

D.C. Child and Family Services Agency
Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care
“You have a right to fair treatment and respect. No one may scare, bully, or abuse you. No one may punish you with hitting or other violence. No one may refuse to help you or disrespect you because of your race, color, religion, appearance, sexual orientation, or disability.”
https://cfsa.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/cfsa/page_content/attachments/YBOR.pdf

D.C. Child and Family Services Agency
Administrative Issuance CFSA-10-6, Bill of Rights for Youth in Care (Sept. 3, 2010)
“As a youth in the foster care system, I am guaranteed the following general rights:
. . .
V. To express my beliefs, customs, and values with the people where I live. I have the right to have my caregiver listen to and respect my beliefs, customs, and values.”
https://cfsa.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/cfsa/publication/attachments/AI%20-%20Bill%20of%20Rights%20for%20Youth%20in%20Care%20(final)_1.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://cfsa.dc.gov/services

Grievance Procedure:
http://cfsa.dc.gov/service/be-heard-for-youth

Ombudsman:
District of Columbia Child and Family Services Agency Youth Ombudsman
200 I Street, SE
Washington, District of Columbia 20003
Phone: (855) 874-3273
Fax: (202) 727-6505
Email: yo.bud@dc.gov

Additional Provisions:

Florida

Florida has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in the context of placement in congregate care (group homes). The regulations contain a protocol regarding placement of transgender youth consistent with their identities and define “gender” as inclusive of gender identity. The Department of Children and Family Services has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex.

Florida has a Children’s Ombudsman.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:

Fla. Admin. Code Ann. Reg. 65C-14.001
Definitions
“(2) ‘Gender’ or ‘gender identity’ means a person’s internal identification or self-image as male or female. Gender identity may or may not correspond to the gender that is listed on the person’s birth certificate. The terms ‘male,’ ‘female,’ or ‘nonbinary’ describe how a person identifies.”

Fla. Admin. Code & Fla. Admin. Reg. 65C-14.018
Individual Needs of Children In Care.
“(8) The child-caring agency shall involve the child in the selection, care and maintenance of the child’s personal clothing, as appropriate to the child’s age and ability. The child-caring agency shall allow a child to possess and bring personal belongings. The child-caring agency may limit or supervise the use of these items . . . however, it may not restrict items based on the child’s gender identity or expression.”

Fla. Admin. Code & Fla. Admin. Reg. 65C-14.021
Discipline and Behavior Management.
“(3) Facility staff shall not:
. . .
(h) Engage in discriminatory treatment or harassment on the basis of a child’s race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or disability, or any other characteristic.
(i) Permit harassment or bullying of children by staff or other youth based on their race, national origin, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic.
(j) Attempt to change or discourage a child’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Fla. Admin. Code & Fla. Admin. Reg. 65C-14.023
Personnel and Staffing Requirements.
“(18)(a) The child-caring agency shall document that training received by direct child care staff in the first full year of employment includes the following areas:
. . .
4. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

Fla. Admin. Code & Fla. Admin. Reg. 65C-14.040
Group Care: Admission, Placement, and Ongoing Services.
“(4) The admission of each child in the care and custody of the Department to a residential child-caring agency shall follow completion of a pre-admission study completed by the child-placing agency, and shall include the following:
. . .
(f) For transgender youth, a determination whether the youth should be placed with their gender listed on their birth certificate or their identified gender. Factors to be considered shall include:
1. The physical safety of the transgender youth,
2. The emotional well-being of the transgender youth,
3. The youth’s preference,
4. The recommendation of the youth’s guardian ad litem,
5. The recommendation of the youth’s parent, when parental rights have not been terminated,
6. The recommendation of the youth’s case manager; and,
7. The recommendation of the youth’s therapist, if applicable.
(5) No child shall be denied services by any child-placing agency based on race, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or transgenderism. A child-placing agency has the obligation to place each child in the most suitable setting according to that child’s individual needs, taking into account the capacity of the placement to meet the child’s needs, and the needs of the other children already placed in that setting.
. . .
(7) The child-caring agency shall provide prior to or at admission an orientation to living in the facility for each child and the child’s parent or guardian or child-placing agency staff. The orientation shall include the following:
. . .
(f) The inherent diversity of group home populations, including race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, and transgenderism.

Policy:

Florida Department of Children and Families
USDA-HHS Non-Discrimination Statement
“This institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and in some cases religion or political beliefs.”
http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/access-florida-food-medical-assistance-cash/non-discrimination-statement

State Agency Website:

http://www.myflfamilies.com/

Grievance Procedure:
None known.

Ombudsman:

Heather Rosenberg
Florida Children’s Ombudsman
Phone: (850) 717-4505
Cell: (850) 491-2203
Ombudsman Line: 844-KIDS-FLA
Email: kidsfla@myflfamilies.com
http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/child-welfare/childrens-ombudsman

Florida Department of Children and Families
County Client Relations Coordinators
Phone: (850) 487-1111
https://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/docs/ClientRelationsCoord.pdf

The Department of Children and Families also lists contact information by region or service.
http://www.myflfamilies.com/contact-us

Additional Provisions:

Georgia

Georgia has no explicit state-wide protection from discrimination on account of sex (or gender), sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system in statute, regulation or policy.

Georgia has an Office of the Child Advocate.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:
None known.

State Agency Website:

https://dfcs.georgia.gov/

Grievance Procedure:

Child Welfare Constituents Services Form
http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/webform/child-welfare-constituent-services-form

Office of the Child Advocate
Forms and Reporting
http://oca.georgia.gov/forms-reporting

Ombudsman:
Georgia’s Office of the Child Advocate
270 Washington Street S.W.
8th Floor, Suite 8101
Atlanta, Georgia 30334
Phone: (404) 656-4200
Fax: (404) 656-5200
Email: tboga@oca.ga.gov
http://oca.georgia.gov/

Additional Provisions:

Guam

Guam has policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sex for youth in the child welfare system.

Guam has no known ombudsman.

Statute: 
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Guam Division of Public Welfare
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
“This institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and in some cases religion or political beliefs.”
http://www.dphss.guam.gov/content/division-public-welfare

State Agency Website:

http://www.dphss.guam.gov/content/bureau-social-services-administration

Grievance Procedure
None known.

Ombudsman:
None known.

Hawaii

Hawaii has Department of Human Services (DHS) policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth who are participants in DHS programs, which includes the child welfare system.

The state prohibits any person who is “licensed to provide professional counseling” from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” on anyone under 18 years of age. The law defines sexual orientation change efforts as “the practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation, including but not limited to efforts to change gender identity or gender expressions and behaviors.” S.B. 270, 29th Leg. (Haw. 2018).

The Office of the Ombudsman handles complaints against all state and county agencies, but is not child welfare specific.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Hawaii Department of Human Services
Policy No. 4.10.1, Discrimination Complaints Policy (Oct. 1, 2014)
“It is the policy of the DHS to assure a work and service environment free from discriminatory practices for all department employees, applicants for employment, applicants for participation in the DHS programs, and participants in DHS programs. The work and service environments shall be without discrimination, retaliation for having filed a complaint, and/or harassment on the basis of age, arrest/court records, breastfeeding, child support assignment, citizenship, credit history, disability (physical or mental), domestic/sexual violence victim status, genetic information, National Guard absence, national origin/ancestry, political belief, race or color, religion, relationship status, sex/gender (expression or identity), sexual orientation, veteran status, retaliation for filing a complaint or participating in complaint process, and harassment based on one or more of the protected factors listed here or might be added to law periodically.”
http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Policy-4.10.1-Disc-Complaint.pdf

Hawaii Department of Human Services
Nondiscrimination
“In accordance with federal and state laws, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USHHS) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex/gender (expression or identity), age or disability.”
https://humanservices.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/DOC005.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://humanservices.hawaii.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
General government complaint system – see Ombudsman below

Ombudsman:
Hawaii Office of the Ombudsman
465 South King Street, 4th Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 587-0770
Fax: (808) 587-0773
http://www.ombudsman.hawaii.gov/got-a-complaint

Additional Provisions:

Idaho

Idaho has policy-based protections inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in its “Idaho Youth in Care Bill of Rights.” The Department of Health and Welfare has a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

The state has no known ombudsman.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Idaho Youth in Care Bill of Rights (Oct. 2015)
“Youth have the right to learn about their sexuality in a safe and supportive environment.
. . .
Youth have the most basic right to receive care and services that are free of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity and gender expression, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental disability, and the fact that they are in foster care.”
http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Portals/0/Children/AdoptionFoster/YouthInCare-BillofRights.pdf

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Non-Discrimination Statement
“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is committed to equal opportunity in the delivery of programs and services to clients.

The Department is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and, in some cases, religion or political beliefs.”
http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/AboutUs/Discrimination/tabid/1058/Default.aspx

State Agency Website:

https://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
None known.

Ombudsman:
None known.

Additional Provisions:

Illinois*

Illinois has a nondiscrimination policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQ youth in care.

The state prohibits mental health providers from engaging in “sexual orientation change efforts” with anyone under the age of eighteen. 405 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 48/1-48/30. The law defines sexual orientation as inclusive of “gender-related identity.” 775 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/1-103.

Illinois has a child welfare-specific ombudsman.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:

89 Ill. Adm. Code 309.20
“‘Best interests’ as defined in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 means consideration of the following factors in the context of the child's age and developmental needs: the physical safety and welfare of the child, including food, shelter, health, and clothing; the development of the child’s identity[.]”

89 Ill. Adm. Code 401.500(e)
“Prohibit discrimination against any child, birth parent, foster parent or prospective adoptive parent on the basis of race, religion, gender, or ethnicity.”

Policy:

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Services Delivered by the Department, 302. Appendix K, Support and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Children and Youth (May 11, 2017)
https://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/notices/Documents/Procedures_302_Appendices.pdf
(Go to page 97.)

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, LGBTQ Rainbow Youth Rights (2016)
https://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/brighterfutures/independence/Documents/LGBTQRights.pdf

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Support and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youths, Policy Transmittal 2009.06 (March 13, 2009)
http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/cw_and_jj_illinois_2009.pdf

State of Illinois, Department of Children and Family Services
Illinois Foster Child and Youth Bill of Rights (Nov. 2015)
“As a child or foster youth in care, I have the right:
. . .
To be free from discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status
. . .
To have caregivers and child welfare personnel who have received instruction on cultural competency and sensitivity relating to and best practices for serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in out-of-home-care[.]”
https://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/notices/documents/cfs_496-1_illinois_foster_child_and_youth_foster_bill_of_rights.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
DHS Help Line, 800-843-6154 (voice), 800-447-6404 (TTY)

Ombudsman:
Illinois Advocacy Office for Children and Families
406 East Monroe Street
Springfield, Illinois 62701
Phone: (217) 524-2029
Toll-Free: (800) 232-3798
TTY: (800) 513-4980
Email: dcfs.advocacy@illinois.gov
http://www.illinois.gov/dcfs/aboutus/Documents/AdvocBro.pdf

Additional Provisions:

Indiana

Indiana has policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity in its “Indiana Bill of Rights for Youth in Care.”

Indiana has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Indiana Bill of Rights for Youth in Care
“We have the right not to be discriminated against based on our race, color, religion, sex, gender, age, mental or physical disability, national origin, marital status, familial status, political views, financial situation, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We have the right to learn about these things in a safe and supportive environment.”
http://www.in.gov/dcs/files/Indiana_DCS_Bill_of_Rights_for_Youth_in_Care.pdf

Indiana Department of Child Services
Child Welfare Manual, Ch. 11: Older Youth Services
Sec. 25: Collaborative Care Host Homes
“Home Host Placement will refrain from discriminating against youth based on race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.”
http://www.in.gov/dcs/files/11_25_Collaborative_Care_Host_Homes.pdf

Indiana Department of Child Services
Code of Conduct for the Indiana Department of Child Services [Revised] (Jan. 1, 2013)
“E. [REVISED] Diversity and Non-Discrimination: DCS staff will be respectful, understanding of and sensitive to the diverse cultural backgrounds of all individuals with whom DCS interacts. This includes but is not limited to, social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, religion, and mental and physical disability.

DCS staff will not condone or engage in any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability. All reports of discrimination must be reported to DCS Human Resources or the State Personnel Department (SPD).

F. [REVISED] Prevention of Workplace Harassment: DCS staff will strive to maintain an environment free from sexual harassment and harassment based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, or physical or mental disability.”
http://www.in.gov/dcs/files/Code_of_Conduct.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://www.in.gov/dcs/

Grievance Procedure:

Ombudsman:
Indiana Department of Child Services Ombudsman Bureau
402 W. Washington, W479
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Phone: (317) 234-7295
Email: DCSOmbudsman@idoa.in.gov
http://www.in.gov/idoa/2610.htm

Additional Provisions:

Iowa

Iowa has Department of Human Services (DHS) policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Office of Citizens’ Aide Ombudsman serves as an independent and impartial agency to which citizens can air their grievances about government, but is not child welfare-specific.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Iowa Department of Human Services
Non-Discrimination Policy
“It is the policy of the Iowa Department of Human Services to provide equal treatment in employment and provision of services to applicants, employees and clients without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, disability or veteran status; hereafter referred to as protected category.”
http://dhs.iowa.gov/non-discrimination-policy

Iowa Foster Child and Youth Bill of Rights
“You have the right to be who you are.”
http://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/AMP_Bill_of_Rights_2013.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://dhs.iowa.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
General government complaint system – see Ombudsman below

Ombudsman:
Iowa Office of Citizens’ Aide Ombudsman
Ola Babcock Miller Building
1112 East Grand
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: (515) 281-3592
Toll-Free: (888) 426-6283
https://www.legis.iowa.gov/Ombudsman/

Additional Provisions:

Kansas

Kansas has policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sex, but not sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, for youth in the child welfare system. 

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits child placement agencies to refuse to “participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement of such child would violate such agency’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” S.B. 284 (Kan. 2018).

Kansas has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:
None known.

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:

Kansas Department for Children and Families
Policy 0220, Discrimination Prohibited by Law (Jan. 1, 2018)
“All services shall be in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and K.S.A. 44-1009. No individual/family will be denied services because of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion and mental or physical disability. The provision of services will be provided based on need and eligibility criteria.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person's race, color, national origin, sex, age, and religion.
. . .
K.S.A. 44-1009(a)(3) states, ‘It shall be unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to refuse, deny, make a distinction, directly or indirectly, or discriminate in any way against persons because of the race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or ancestry of such persons in the full and equal use and enjoyment of the services, facilities, privileges and advantages of any institution, department or agency of the State of Kansas or any political subdivision or municipality thereof.’”
http://bit.ly/2ENsjdZ

State Agency Website:

http://www.dcf.ks.gov/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
None known.

Ombudsman:
Kansas Department of Children and Families
Foster Parent and Youth Ombudsman
Toll-Free: (844) 279-2306
Email: fosterparent@dcf.ks.gov
http://www.dcf.ks.gov/services/PPS/Pages/Foster-Parent-and-Youth-Ombudsman.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Kentucky

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sex, but not sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, for anyone seeking to access services.

The Office of the Ombudsman handles matters pertaining to programs and services provided by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Statute:

Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 199.898
Rights for children in child-care programs and their parents, custodians, or guardians; posting and distribution requirements
“(1) All children receiving child-care services in . . . a family child-care home certified pursuant to KRS 199.8982, or from a provider or program receiving public funds shall have the following rights:
(a) The right to be free from physical or mental abuse;
(b) The right not to be subjected to abusive language or abusive punishment; and
(c) The right to be in the care of adults who shall meet their health, safety, and development.”

Regulation:
None known.

Policy:
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services
Civil Rights/Derechos Civiles
“The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services does not discriminate against any person on the basis of political beliefs, race, color, national origin, religion, age, disability or sex. This policy protects the rights of the Cabinet’s employees, service applicants and customers. Vendors, agencies and organizations providing services to the Cabinet or its recipients of federally aided programs also must comply with this policy.”
http://chfs.ky.gov/cr.htm

State Agency Website:

http://chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/default.htm

Grievance Procedure:

Ombudsman:
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of the Ombudsman
275 East Main Street, 1E-B
Frankfort, Kentucky 40621
Phone: (502) 564-5497
Toll-Free: (800) 372-2973
Email: AndreaT.Day@ky.gov
http://chfs.ky.gov/os/omb/

Additional Provisions:

Louisiana

Louisiana has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sex, sexual orientation or any other “non-merit factor,” but not gender identity or expression, for youth in the child welfare system. 

The state’s Child Welfare Division has no known designated ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

La. Admin Code. tit. 67, pt. V., § 7311(E)(5)
Provider Responsibilities: Children’s Rights: Civil Rights
“a. A child’s civil rights shall not be abridged or abrogated solely as a result of placement in the provider’s program.
b. A child shall not be denied admission, segregated into programs or otherwise subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, physical limitations, political beliefs, or any other non-merit factor.”

La. Admin Code. tit. 67, pt. V, § 7115(A)(5)
Resident Protection: Rights: Civil Rights
“a. A child’s civil rights shall not be abridged or abrogated solely as a result of placement in the provider’s program.
b. A child shall not be denied admission, segregated into programs or otherwise subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, physical limitations, political beliefs, or any other non-merit factor.”

La. Admin Code. tit. 67, pt. V, § 7309
Child Placing Agencies: Administration and Operation
“H. Policies and Procedures
1. The provider shall have a clearly defined intake policy in keeping with its stated purpose and it should be clear from the practices of the provider that it is carrying out these purposes.
a. Provider intake policy shall prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, sex, national origin, handicapping condition, or ancestry.”

Policy:

Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services
Medical Services to Foster Children (June 7, 2017)
“Treatment should never be sought specifically because the youth is expressing/questioning gender identity that is different to societal expectations or because the youth expresses sexual interest that is different from cultural norms. However, if a youth is demonstrating extreme agitation, fearfulness, anxiety or depression which is impacting them or causing difficulty within interpersonal relationships and/or day to day functioning due to their gender identity or sexual interest, then Behavioral Health services should be identified with an LGBTQ affirming service provider experienced in this area of treatment to empower the youth to resolve the issues the youth is experiencing, which may include self-concept problems, difficulty reconciling personal identity, body image issues, etc.”

State Agency Website:

http://www.dss.state.la.us/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
627 North Fourth Street
Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70802
Phone: (225) 342-2297
Fax: (225) 342-2268
http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/index.cfm?md=pagebuilder&tmp=home&nid=184&pnid=0&pid=372

Additional Provisions:

Maine

Maine has policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. Sex is included as a protected class in regulation.

Maine has an ombudsman specific to child welfare.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Code Me. R. tit. 10-148 Ch. 9, § 4
Rules for the Licensing of Emergency Shelters for Children
4. STANDARDS FOR LICENSURE
“E. Admission and Discharge
(1) Referral Process.
a. Non-Discrimination in Providing Services. The facility shall not refuse admission to any child on the grounds of race, sex, religions handicapping condition or ethnic origin. The facility may limit admission on grounds of sex, religion or handicapping condition if the program is not adequately designed to serve this population and cannot meet the specific child's needs.”

Code Me. R. tit. 10-148 Ch. 18, § 4
Residential Child Care Facilities
“E. Admission and Discharge
. . .
(1) Referral Process
a. Non-Discrimination in Providing Services. The facility shall not refuse admission to any child on the grounds of race, sex, religion, handicapping condition or ethnic origin. The facility may limit admission on grounds of sex, religion or handicapping condition if the program is not adequately designed to serve this population and cannot meet the specific child’s needs.”

Policy:

The Maine Youth in Care Bill of Rights
“Youth have the most basic right to receive care and services that are free of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity and gender expression, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental disability, and the fact that they are in foster care.” 
http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cw/youth_bill_rights.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cw/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
Maine Child Welfare Services Ombudsman
Phone: (207) 213-4773
Toll-Free: (866) 621-0758
Email: ombudsman@cwombudsman.com
http://cwombudsman.com/

Additional Provisions:

Maryland*

Maryland has regulatory-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation and sex for youth in the child welfare system. In addition, Maryland has a nondiscrimination policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQ youth in care, which includes a requirement to provide affirming and fair treatment regardless of the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression of the youth.

The state prohibits mental health providers or child care practitioners from engaging in “conversion therapy” with anyone under the age of eighteen. The law defines conversion therapy seeking “to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” S.B. 1028, 438th Leg. (Md. 2018).

The state has a dedicated ombudsman for foster youth issues as well as one for foster parent issues, but no direct contact information is listed on the Department of Human Resources website.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Md. Code Regs. 10.57.05.03(C)
General Conduct.
“In the capacity or identity as a certified residential child care program administrator or certified residential child and youth care practitioner may not
. . .
(5) Practice, condone, or facilitate discrimination, or collaborate to discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion, national origin, marital status, political belief, disability, or other preference or personal characteristic, condition, or status with an individual or group of individuals;
(6) Engage or participate in an action that violates or diminishes the civil or legal rights of a client[.]”

Policy:

Maryland Department of Human Resources, Social Services Administration, Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Families (Aug. 1, 2016)
http://bit.ly/2aH5RVh

Maryland Department of Human Resources, Social Services Administration
A Handbook for Youth: Out of Home Placement – Foster Care (p. 20)
“You have the right to feel safe and protected while in your foster care placement.”
http://www.dhr.state.md.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/a-handbook-for-youth-out-of-home-placement.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://dhr.maryland.gov/

Grievance Procedure:

http://dhr.maryland.gov/licensing-and-monitoring/how-to-make-a-complaint/

Ombudsman:
Department of Human Resources
311 West Saratoga Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: 1-800-332-6347
TTY: 1-800-925-4434
Email: dhr-help@dhr.state.md.us
http://dhr.maryland.gov/foster-care/resource-parents/dhr-ombudsman/

Additional Provisions:

Massachusetts*

Massachusetts has regulatory- and policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and sex, but not gender identity and expression, for youth in the child welfare system. In addition, Massachusetts has a nondiscrimination policy specific to upholding the rights of GLBT youth in care, which includes sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as protected classes.

Massachusetts has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

110 Mass. Code Regs. 1.09
Special Provisions Relating to Nondiscrimination
“(1) No Applicant for or recipient of Department [of Children and Families] services shall, on the ground of race, creed, color, religion, age, ancestry, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, language, disability, veteran status, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in connection with any service, program, or activity administered or provided by the Department.”

Policy:

Massachusetts Department of Social Services, Standards of Care Relative to Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered (GLBT) Youth
http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/massachusetts_policy...

Massachusetts Department of Children and Families
Foster Child Bill of Rights
“Every foster child . . . Shall be treated with respect by DCF staff, foster parents and providers without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion and/or disability.”
www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dcf/foster-child-rights.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://www.mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-department-of-children-families

Grievance Procedure:

http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dcf/dcf-ombudsman.html

Ombudsman:
Massachusetts Department of Children and Families Ombudsman
24 Farnsworth Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Phone: (617) 748-2444
http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dcf/dcf-ombudsman.html

Additional Provisions:

Michigan

Michigan has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system.

However, the state also has a religious refusal law, which permits child placing agencies to refuse to provide services that conflict with their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 722.124e.

Michigan has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Nondiscrimination Statement
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) does not discriminate against any individual or group because of race, religion, age, national origin, color, height, weight, marital status, genetic information, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political beliefs or disability.
http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-73970_7701_76675-77286--,00.html

State Agency Website:

http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
Michigan Office of Children’s Ombudsman
P.O. Box 30026
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Phone: (517) 373-3077
Toll-Free: (800) 642-4326
Fax: (517) 335-4471
Email: childombud@michigan.gov
http://www.michigan.gov/oco/

Additional Provisions:

Minnesota*

Minnesota has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of gender and sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression, for youth in the child welfare system. Minnesota has a nondiscrimination policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQ youth in care, including protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity. The state Department of Human Services has policy-based protection against discrimination based on sex, including sex stereotypes and gender identity, and sexual orientation.

The state has an Office of the Ombudsperson for Families.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Minn. R. 2960.0050
Licensure and Certification of Programs for Children
RESIDENT RIGHTS AND BASIC SERVICES
“A resident has basic rights including, but not limited to, the rights in this subpart. The license holder must ensure that the rights in items A to R are protected:
. . .
P. right to be free from bias and harassment regarding race, gender, age, disability, spirituality, and sexual orientation[.]”

Minn. R. 2960.0080
Licensure an Certification of Programs for Children
FACILITY OPERATIONAL SERVICE POLICIES AND PRACTICES
“Subp. 5. Discipline policy and procedures required. The license holder must have discipline policies and procedure that require the resident’s abuse history and developmental, cultural, disability, and gender needs be taken into consideration when deciding the disciplinary action to be taken with a resident. The policy must include the requirements in items A to E.
A. The license holder must not subject residents to:
. . .
(2) verbal abuse, including, but not limited to: name calling; derogatory statements about the resident or resident’s family, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or culture; or statements intended to shame, threaten, humiliate, or frighten the resident[.]”

Minn. R. 2960.3080
Licensure and Certification of Programs for Children
PLACEMENT, CONTINUED STAY, AND DISCHARGE
“Subp. 8. Discipline. The license holder must consider the [foster] child’s abuse history and developmental, cultural, disability, and gender needs when deciding the disciplinary action to be taken with the child. Disciplinary action must be in keeping with the license holder’s discipline policy. The discipline policy must include the requirements in items A and B.
A. Children must not be subjected to: 
. . .
(2) verbal abuse, including, but not limited to: name calling; derogatory statements about the child or child’s family, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or culture[.]”

Policy:

Minnesota Department of Human Services
Working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning/queer youth (Aug. 27, 2013)
https://edocs.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Public/DHS-6500-ENG

Minnesota Department of Human Services
Civil rights in human services
“The Minnesota Department of Human Services, Equal Opportunity and Access Division, prohibits discrimination in its programs because of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, sexual orientation, public assistance status, age, disability or sex (including sex stereotypes and gender identity under any health program or activity receiving federal financial assistance).”

State Agency Website:

https://mn.gov/dhs/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
State of Minnesota
Office of the Ombudsperson for Families
1450 Energy Drive
Suite 106
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108
Phone: (651) 603-0058
Toll-Free: 1-888-234-4939
Fax: (651) 643-2539
http://mn.gov/ombudfam/

Additional Provisions:

Mississippi

Mississippi has regulatory-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system.

However, the state also has a religious refusal law, which permits any “religious organization” to refuse to provide services if doing so is “based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.” The religious beliefs protected by the law are the beliefs that “(a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.” The services an organization is permitted to refuse include the provision of “any adoption or foster care service.” H.B. 1523 (Miss. 2016).

The state’s Department of Human Services has no known ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Code Miss. R. 18-6:1.A-II-XIV
“A. As a Child or Youth in Foster Care, I Have the Right:
. . .
• To fair treatment, whatever my gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, medical problems, or sexual orientation.
. . .
C. All Children and Youth in Foster Care Have the Right to...
. . .
• Be who they are.
• Youth have the right to their own identity, values, freedom to express their emotions, hopes, plans and goals, religion/spirituality.
• Youth have the right to learn about their sexuality in a safe and supportive environment.
. . .
• Youth have the most basic right to receive care and services that are free of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity and gender expression, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental disability, and the fact that they’re in foster care.”

Code Miss. R. 18-6:1.A-II-XII
“C. For Youth 14 or Older in Foster Care
These are the rights and responsibilities for youth fourteen (14) and older in the custody of the MDHS.
. . .
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
. . .
6. To fair treatment, whatever my gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, medical problems, or sexual orientation.
. . .
14. Be treated with dignity and respect and receive services without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or political affiliation.
YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY TO:
. . .
4. Treat others with dignity and respect without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability or political affiliation.
. . .
D. Rights and Responsibilities Children 13 and Under in Foster Care
You have rights and responsibilities while you are involved with DFCS of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS)
. . . .
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
. . .
6. To fair treatment, whatever my gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, medical problems, or sexual orientation.
. . .
11. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and receive services without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or political affiliation.”

Code Miss. R. 18-6:1.I-III
“L. Notice of Non-Discrimination Policy
MDHS-DFCS prohibits discrimination and/or the exclusion of individuals from its facilities, programs, activities and services based on the individual person’s race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or inability to speak English. A notice of MDHS-DFCS non-discrimination policy will be posted in each county office.”

Code Miss. R. 18-6:1.I-IV App’x B
“In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. Under Food Stamp Act and USDA policy, discrimination is prohibited also on the basis of religion or political beliefs.”

Policy:

State of Mississippi Department of Human Services
Division of Family and Children’s Services
Section D: Foster Care Policy (rev’d Sept. 11, 2017)
Appendix L: NOTICE OF RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES FOR YOUTH 14 AND OVER IN FOSTER CARE (p. 197)
“These are the rights and responsibilities for youth fourteen (14) and older in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
. . .
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
. . .
6. To fair treatment, whatever my gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, medical problems, or sexual orientation.
. . .
Appendix M: NOTICE OF RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES CHILDREN 13 & UNDER IN FOSTER CARE (p. 200)
“You have rights and responsibilities while you are involved with the DFCS of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS). These are the rights and responsibilities for children thirteen and under who are in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
. . .
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO:
. . .
6. To fair treatment, whatever my gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, medical problems, or sexual orientation.”
https://www.mdcps.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/DFCS-Policy-Section-D-09-11-17.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://www.mdcps.ms.gov/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:
None known.

Additional Provisions:

Missouri

Missouri has Department of Social Services policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or gender expression, for youth in the child welfare system.

Missouri has an Office of Child Advocate.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Mo. Ann. Stat. § 210.564
“(3)(1) In all circumstances, the best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division[.]”

Policy:

Missouri DSS Nondiscrimination Policy Statement
“DSS applicants for, or recipients of, services from DSS are treated equitably regardless of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, or religion.”
http://dss.mo.gov/files/missouri-nondiscrimination-policy-statement.htm

State Agency Website:

https://dss.mo.gov/

Grievance Procedure:

https://dss.mo.gov/cd/info/cwmanual/section8/ch1/sec8ch1sub1.htm

Ombudsman:
Missouri Office of Child Advocate
PO Box 809
Jefferson City, Missouri 65102
Toll-Free: (866) 457-2302
Fax: (573) 522-6870
Email: oca@oca.mo.gov
http://www.oca.mo.gov

Additional Provisions:

Montana

Montana has Department of Public Health and Human Services policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation, but not gender identity and expression, for youth in the child welfare system.

Montana has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Policy No. 5.1.016, Equal Employment Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, and Harassment Policy (rev’d Feb. 11, 2014)
“E. DPHHS will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, political belief, genetic information, veteran status, culture, social origin or condition, or ancestry. Likewise, DPHHS will not tolerate discrimination or harassment because of a person’s marriage to or association with individuals in one of the previously mentioned protected classes.”
https://dphhs.mt.gov/Portals/85/Documents/5-1-016Nondiscrimination.pdf

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Notice of Nondiscrimination
“The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. DPHHS does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.”
http://dphhs.mt.gov/NondiscriminationPolicy

State Agency Website:

http://dphhs.mt.gov/cfsd

Grievance Procedure:

https://dphhs.mt.gov/qad/certificationcomplaintform.aspx

Ombudsman:
Montana Child and Family Ombudsman
Helena, Montana 59604
Toll-Free: (844) 252-4453
Email: DOJOMBUDSMAN@mt.gov
http://dphhs.mt.gov/CFSD.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Nebraska

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex, but not sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, for anyone seeking to access services. 

The Ombudsman’s Office is not child-welfare specific.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Notice of Nondiscrimination and Program Accessibility
“DHHS complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability in admission to its programs, services, or activities; in access to them; in treatment of individuals with disabilities; in provision of benefits, in its hiring or employment practices, or in any aspect of their operations.”
http://bit.ly/2COpPMy

State Agency Website:

http://dhhs.ne.gov/children_family_services/Pages/children_family_services.aspx

Grievance Procedure:

http://nebraskalegislature.gov/divisions/ombud-filing.php

Ombudsman:
Nebraska Public Counsel (Ombudsman’s Office)
PO Box 94604
Room 807, State Capitol
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509-4604
Phone: (402) 471-2035
Toll-Free: (800) 742-7690
Email: ombud@leg.ne.gov
http://nebraskalegislature.gov/divisions/ombud-filing.php

Additional Provisions:

Nevada

Nevada has statutory- and policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system.

The state requires that all child welfare workers making direct contact with children be trained in providing services to LGBTQ youth. Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 432B.195(2), 424.0365(1)(h).

Nevada prohibits psychotherapists from providing “conversion therapy” to anyone under 18 years of age. The law defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of a person.” Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. SB 201, § 1.5.

Nevada has a child welfare “Systems Advocate.”

Statute:

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 432.525
Rights generally.
“A child placed in a foster home by an agency which provides child welfare services has the right:
. . .
(7) To be free from:
. . .
(e) Discrimination or harassment on the basis of his or her actual or perceived race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability or exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus.”

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Nevada’s Foster Youth Bill of Rights
“If you believe that your rights have been violated or that you are being treated differently because of your race, ethnicity, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability or exposure to HIV, you have the right to have any violations resolved.”
http://dcfs.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/dcfsnvgov...

State Agency Website:

http://dcfs.nv.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:
Nevada Division of Child and Family Services
Systems Advocate
4126 Technology Way, 3rd Floor
Carson City, Nevada 89706
Phone: (775) 684-4453
Email: systems.advocate@dcfs.nv.gov
http://dcfs.nv.gov/Programs/SA/  
http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/countymanager/ombudsman/Pages/default.aspx

Additional Provisions:

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services policy protects youth against discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression, in all aspects of services, treatment and programs.

The state prohibits persons licensed to provide counseling services from engaging in “conversion therapy” with anyone under 18 years of age. The law defines conversion therapy as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” H.B. 587 (N.H. 2018), effective January 2019.

New Hampshire has a Department of Health and Human Services ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.H. Code Admin. R. He-C 6450.23
Discipline
Appendix B: Foster Child Bill of Rights
“EVERY CHILD IN FOSTER CARE HAS THE INHERENT RIGHT:
. . .
Article the second, to be nurtured by foster parents who have been selected to meet his individual needs, and who are provided services and supports, including specialized education, so that they can grow in their ability to enable the child to meet his potentiality.
. . .
Article the fifth, to grow up in freedom and dignity in a neighborhood of people who accept him with understanding, respect, and friendship[.]”

Policy:

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
Non-Discrimination Policy
“The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services does not discriminate against people because of their age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or political affiliation or belief. There will be no discrimination in accepting or providing services, or the admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, any of the Department’s programs or activities.”
http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/oos/ombudsman/nondiscrimination.htm

State Agency Website:

https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dcyf/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
Office of the Ombudsman
129 Pleasant Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301-3857
Phone: (603) 271-6941
Toll-Free: (800) 852-3345
Fax: (603) 271-4632
http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/oos/ombudsman/index.htm

Additional Provisions:

New Jersey*

New Jersey has regulatory- and policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. In addition, New Jersey has a policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQI youth in care.

The state prohibits counselors from imposing “sexual orientation change efforts” on anyone under the age of eighteen. The law defines sexual orientation change efforts as “the practice of seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation, including . . . efforts to change behaviors, gender identity, or gender expressions.” N.J. Stat. Ann. § 45:1-55.

New Jersey has a Department of Children and Families “Office of Advocacy.”

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.J. Admin. Code 10:122B-1.5
Nondiscrimination
“(b) Neither the Division nor any contract agency providing resource care services shall discriminate with regards to the licensing of a resource parent or to providing resource care in accordance with N.J.A.C. 10:122C-2.1, on the basis of age; disability; gender; religion; sexual orientation; parental status; or birth status, against:
1. Any person who requests information about becoming a resource parent;
2. A resource parent applicant;
3. A licensed resource parent;
4. A child needing placement in a resource home; or
5. A child placed in a resource home.”

N.J. Admin. Code 10:133-1.4
Rights of applicants and clients
“(i) The Division shall not discriminate against an applicant or client on the basis of race; color; ethnicity; national origin; age; handicapping condition; gender; religion; marital, civil union, domestic partnership, parental or birth status; affectional or sexual orientation, as defined at N.J.S.A. 10:5-5hh; or gender identity or expression, as defined at N.J.S.A. 10:5-5rr.”

Policy:

New Jersey Department of Children and Families, LGBTQI Policy (Aug. 30, 2016)
http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/policy_manuals/CPP-VI-B-1-500_issuance.shtml

New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Policy No. 100, CP&P Mission, Vision and Goals (Apr. 25, 2011)
“CP&P prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The CP&P practice of inclusion extends to service delivery. Therefore, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersexed youth are provided with equal access to all available services, including placement, care, and treatment.”
http://www.nj.gov/dcf/policy_manuals/CPP-I-A-1-100_issuance.shtml

New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Division of Child Protection and Permanency (CP&P)
Bill of Rights To Ensure the Rights of Each Child and Youth in CP&P Placement (July 2015)
“YOU HAVE THE RIGHT:
. . .
• To be who you are. To be able to express yourself as an individual in a respectful and meaningful way.
. . .
• To be free from abuse, neglect, exploitation, discrimination, and harassment.”
http://www.nj.gov/dcf/policy_manuals/BillofRights.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/

Grievance Procedure:

http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/divisions/oa/

Ombudsman:

New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Office of Advocacy
222 South Warren Street
PO Box 729, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0729
Toll-Free: (877) 543-7864
Email: askDCF@dcf.state.nj.us
http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/divisions/oa/

Additional Provisions:

New Mexico

New Mexico has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system.

The state prohibits the provision of “conversion therapy” to any person under the age of eighteen. The law defines conversion therapy as “any practice or treatment that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” N.M. Stat. Ann. § 61-1-3.3.

New Mexico has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.M. Admin. Code 8.10.8.10
PERMANENCY PLANNING
“OUT OF HOME PLACEMENT: When a child cannot safely remain in his or her home, PSD shall pursue legal custody of the child. When the court has determined that it is contrary to the welfare of the child to remain in his or her home, PSD is awarded legal custody and placed with a licensed foster care provider to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. The placement of a child into foster care shall not be delayed or denied on the basis of the race, color, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin of the foster parent, or the child involved.”

N.M. Admin. Code 8.26.2.12
PLACEMENT SERVICES
ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITES OF FOSTER PARENTS
“E. Prohibited forms of discipline shall include, but are not limited to the following: corporal punishment such as shaking, spanking, hitting, whipping, or hair or ear pulling; isolation; forced to exercised [sic]; denial of food, sleep or approved visits or contact with parent; verbal assaults which subject the child to ridicule or which belittle the child or the child’s family, gender, race, religious preference, sexual orientation or cultural identity. The child shall not be excluded from the foster family and shall not be threatened with exclusion from the foster home as punishment. The child shall not be locked in a room or closet.”

N.M. Admin. Code 8.26.5.15
CHILD PLACEMENT AGENCY LICENSING STANDARDS
AGENCY OPERATIONS
“B. Ethical operations: The agency operates in an ethical manner and according to any standards a relevant licensing board promulgates, including, but not limited to the following:
. . .
(5) Discrimination: Agencies who receive state or federal monies, shall not discriminate against applicants, clients, or employees based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, physical or mental handicap, or serious medical condition, spousal affiliation, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Policy:

None known.

State Agency Website:

https://cyfd.org/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

New Mexico Children, Youth & Families
PO Drawer 5160
P.E.R.A. Room 254
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87502
Phone: (505) 827-7606
Fax: (505) 827-4053
Email: harry.montoya@state.nm.us
http://cyfd.org/about-cyfd/constituent-affairs

Additional Provisions:

New York*

New York has regulatory- and policy-based protection from discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. In addition, New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services has a policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQ youth in care. New York City’s Administration for Children and Families also has a detailed LGBTQ policy and additional guidelines for serving transgender and gender-nonconforming youth (see NYC-specific chart below).

The state requires that “no facility shall provide services to minor patients that are intended to change such minor’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 14, § 527.8(d). Additionally, insurance law dictates that “[n]o policy or certificate shall provide coverage for conversion therapy rendered by a mental health professional to an individual under the age of 18 years.” N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, § 52.16(2).

New York has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 18, § 441.24
Nondiscriminatory treatment.
“(a) Authorized agency staff and volunteers shall not engage in or condone discrimination or harassment against prospective foster parents, foster parents or foster children on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, or disability. Authorized agencies shall promote and maintain a safe environment, take reasonable steps to prevent such discrimination or harassment by staff and volunteers, promptly investigate incidents of discrimination and harassment, and take reasonable and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action when such incidents occur.”

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 18, § 423.4
Service provision requirements
“(m)(7) Staff and volunteers of agencies providing preventative services shall not engage in discrimination or harassment of families receiving preventative services on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, or disability. Such agencies shall promote and maintain a safe environment, take reasonable steps to prevent such discrimination or harassment by staff and volunteers, promptly investigate incidents of discrimination and harassment, and take reasonable and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action when such incidents occur.”

N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 18, § 421.3
General requirements
“Authorized agencies providing adoption services shall:
. . .
(d) prohibit discrimination or harassment against applications for adoption services on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, or disability and, shall take reasonable steps to prevent such discrimination or harassment by staff and volunteers, promptly investigate incidents of discrimination and harassment, and take reasonable and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action when such incidents occur.”

Policy:

State of New York, Office of Children & Family Services, PPM 3442.00, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth (2008)
https://www.nycourts.gov/ip/judicialinstitute/transgender/220U.pdf

State of New York, Office of Children and Family Services, 09-OCFS-INF-06, Promoting a Safe and Respectful Environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Children and Youth in Out-of-Home Placement (Dec. 30, 2009)
http://on.ny.gov/2bRhew8

State Agency Website:

https://ocfs.ny.gov/main/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

New York State Office of Children and Families
http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/regionaloffices_main.asp

Additional Provisions:

New York City

New York City has nondiscrimination policies specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQ youth in care, and a policy and guidelines for meeting the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth in the child welfare system.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

City of New York, Administration for Children’s Services, Promoting a Safe and Respectful Environment for LGBTQ Youth and their Families Involved in the Child Welfare, Detention and Juvenile Justice Systems (2012)
http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/acs/pdf/lgbtq/LGBTQ_Policy.pdf

City of New York, Administration for Children’s Services, Non-Discrimination – Youth and Families (2008)
http://on.nyc.gov/2c9HaFa

City of New York, Administration for Children’s Services, Safe and Respected: Policy, Best Practices, & Guidance for Serving Transgender, Gender Expansive, & Nonbinary Children and Youth Involved in the Child Welfare, Detention, and Juvenile Justice Systems (2017)
https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/acs/pdf/lgbtq/SAFEAndRespectedUpdate061417.pdf

City Agency Website:

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/index.page

Grievance Procedure:

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/acs/about/advocacy.page

Ombudsman:

New York City
Office of Advocacy/ACS Parents’ and Children’s Rights Unit
150 William Street - 18th Floor
New York, New York 10038
Phone: (212) 676-9421
http://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/html/advocacy/office_advocacy.shtml

Additional Provisions:

North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex (or gender), but not sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, for anyone seeking to access services.

North Carolina has a Department of Health and Human Services Ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 131D-10.1
Foster Care Children’s Bill of Rights; purpose
“(a) It is the policy of this State to strengthen and preserve the family as a unit consistent with a high priority of protecting children's welfare. When a child requires care outside the family unit, it is the duty of the State to assure that the quality of substitute care is as close as possible to the care and nurturing that society expects of a family.”

10A N.C. Admin. Code 70E.1101
CLIENT RIGHTS
“(a) Foster parents shall ensure that each foster child:
. . .
(22) is provided supervision in accordance with the child’s age, intelligence, emotional makeup, and experience[.]”

Policy:

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
Notice Informing Individuals About Nondiscrimination and Accessibility Requirements
“The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. DHHS does not exclude people or treat them differently because of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.”
https://www.ncdhhs.gov/about/department-initiatives

State Agency Website:

https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/dss

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
101 Blair Drive
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Phone: (919) 855-4800
http://www.ncdhhs.gov

Additional Provisions:

North Dakota

North Dakota has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression, for youth in the child welfare system. The Foster Care Handbook for Youth provides policy-based protection against discrimination on account of gender and sexual orientation. North Dakota Department of Human Services has policy-based protection from discrimination based on sex for anyone seeking to access services.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits any child placing agency to refuse to “perform, assist, counsel, recommend, facilitate, refer, or participate in a placement violates the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” N.D. Cent. Code § 50-12-07.1.

North Dakota has a Department of Human Services Ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

N.D. Admin. Code 75-03-36-35
Foster care services related to child-placing agencies – Programs and services.
“2. The child-placing agency shall have a written intake, admission, and discharge policy. The written policy must include:
. . .
d. A requirement that the child-placing agency will provide services to a child referred to the child-placing agency’s care without discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sexual orientation[.]”

Policy:

North Dakota Department of Human Services
Children & Family Services Division
North Dakota Foster Care Handbook For Youth
“As a North Dakota Foster Youth, you have the right to:
. . .
Be treated fairly and without discrimination or put-downs because of your race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disabilities, or religious beliefs.”
https://www.nd.gov/dhs/info/pubs/docs/cfs/foster-youth-handbook.pdf

North Dakota Department of Human Services
Nondiscrimination Policy
“Discrimination means treating someone differently because of a particular characteristic such as race, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) makes available all services and assistance without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion, political beliefs, or status with respect to marriage or public assistance. These laws must be followed by persons who contract with or receive funds to provide services for DHS, including the state’s eight regional human service centers, the State Hospital, the Developmental Center, and county social services.”
https://www.nd.gov/dhs/misc/nondiscrimination.html

State Agency Website:

https://www.nd.gov/dhs/services/childfamily/

Grievance Procedure:
Appeals Supervisor (for appeals of denial, termination or reduction of benefits)
https://www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/sfn00162.pdf

Ombudsman:

North Dakota Department of Human Services
Appeals Supervisor, Legal Advisory Unit
600 E Boulevard Avenue, Dept. 325
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505-0250
Phone: (701) 328-2311
Toll-Free: (800) 472-2622
Email: dhslau@nd.gov

Additional Provisions:

Ohio

Ohio has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sex, gender, “sexual identity” and sexual orientation for youth in the child welfare system.

The state’s Bureau of Civil Rights accepts discrimination claims on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, political affiliation, disability or age. The Office of Constituent Affairs handles questions and concerns about a broad range of services provided by the state.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Ohio Admin. Code 5101:2-5-35
Children’s rights
“(A) No agency, foster caregiver or residential facility or any employee of an agency or residential facility shall in any way violate any of the following rights of children:
(1) The right to enjoy freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or to abstain from the practice of religion.
(2) The right to reasonable enjoyment of privacy.
(3) The right to have his or her opinions heard and be included, to the greatest extent possible, when any decisions are being made affecting his life.
. . .
(8) The right to receive adequate and appropriate food, clothing, and housing.
. . .
(12) The right to communicate with family, friends and ‘significant others’ from whom he is living apart, in accordance with the child's service or case plan.”

Ohio Admin. Code 5101:2-7-09
Care, supervision and discipline
“(B) A foster caregiver shall not discriminate in providing care and supervision to foster children on the basis of race, sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, color or national origin.
. . .
(D) A foster caregiver shall not subject a foster child to verbal abuse or swearing; to derogatory remarks about foster children and their families, races, sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, religion, color or national origin; or to threats of physical violence or removal from the foster home.

. . .
(N) Concerning the hygiene needs of a foster child, the foster caregiver shall:
(1) Ensure that:
(a) Each foster child's clothing and footwear shall be clean, well-fitting, seasonal and appropriate to the child’s age and gender identity.
(b) Each foster child capable of meeting their own personal hygiene needs shall be provided with adequate personal toiletry supplies appropriate to the child’s age, sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, race and national origin.
(2) Provide each foster child instruction on good habits of personal care, hygiene, and grooming appropriate to the child’s age, sex, gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, race, national origin and need for training.”

Policy:

None known.

State Agency Website:

http://jfs.ohio.gov/ocf/index.stm

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Office of Constituent Affairs
30 East Broad Street
32nd Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-0423
Phone: (614) 466-9280
Email: legislation@jfs.ohio.gov
http://jfs.ohio.gov/oleg/

Additional Provisions:

Oklahoma

Oklahoma has no explicit protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in statute, regulation or agency policy for youth in the child welfare system. Oklahoma does includes sex as a protected class in regulation, and the Department of Human Services protects against discrimination on account of sex.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits any private child placing agency to “perform, assist, counsel, recommend, consent to, refer, or participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” S.B. 1140, 56th Leg. (Okla. 2018), effective November 2018.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has an Office of Client Advocacy.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Okla. Admin. Code 340:1-11-14
Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) responsibility to contractors, vendors, and sub-grantees
“(a) DHS requires its contractors, vendors, and sub-grantees to comply per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:1-11-1. Contractors, vendors, and sub-grantees are informed that compliance with OAC 340:1-11-1 is a condition of the initial or continued participation in any part of the programs in which they are involved. In each DHS-written authorization for the purchase of services, a requirement is included stipulating the services are rendered without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or disability, age, or genetic information.”

Okla. Admin. Code 340:75-7-38
Discipline for the child in Oklahoma Department of Human Service (OKDHS) custody placed in foster family care
“(c) Teaching techniques.
. . .
(5) Punishment. Unacceptable behavior management methods and techniques promote negative behavior, are punitive, and do not promote self-control. Unacceptable behavior management techniques for the child include, but are not limited to:
. . .
(G) derogatory remarks about the child, the child’s biological family, race, religion, or cultural background[.]”

Policy:

Oklahoma Department of Human Services
Web Site Policies: Non-Discrimination Statement
“OKDHS does not discriminate based on race, color, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion, or political opinion or affiliation.”
http://www.okdhs.org/notices/pages/nondisc.aspx

State Agency Website:

http://www.okdhs.org/services/cws/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Oklahoma Department of Human Services
Office of Client Advocacy
PO Box 25352
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73125-0352
Phone: (405) 525-4850
Fax: (405) 525-4855
http://www.okdhs.org/library/news/mk/Pages/comm07202011i.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Oregon

Oregon has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of gender and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or gender expression, for youth in the child welfare system. Oregon’s “Foster Children Bill of Rights,” found in agency policy, gives youth the right to “determine and express [their] gender and sexual identity for [themselves].”

The state prohibits mental health care professionals from practicing “conversion therapy” on recipients under 18 years of age. The law defines conversion therapy as “providing professional services for the purpose of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 675.850.

Oregon has a Foster Care Ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Oregon Department of Human Services, Children, Adults and Families
Policy No. I-A.1, Client Rights – Policy (Dec. 1, 2007)
“Discrimination Prohibited. No individual shall, on the grounds of race, national origin, religion, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, political affiliation, language or disability be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be otherwise subjected to discrimination under programs and activities for which the Department of Human Services has responsibility. This same policy of non-discrimination is equally applicable to all department contractors, grantees, agents and providers of services funded in whole or in part with federal funds.”
https://www.dhs.state.or.us/policy/childwelfare/manual_1/i-a1.pdf

Oregon’s Foster Children’s Bill of Rights
“As a child or youth in foster care, I have the right:
. . .
To determine and express my gender and sexual identity for myself.”
https://aix-xweb1p.state.or.us/es_xweb/DHSforms/Served/de9014a.pdf

State Agency Website:

http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/children/Pages/index.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Oregon Foster Care Ombudsman
500 Summer St. NE E-17
Salem, Oregon 97301
Fax: (855) 840-6036
Email: fco.info@state.or.us
http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/aboutdhs/Pages/fostercare-ombudsman.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sex (and gender) and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or gender expression, for youth in the child welfare system in the context of residential facilities.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

55 Pa. Code § 3800.32
Child Residential and Day Treatment Facilities: Child Rights
Specific rights.
“(a) A child may not be discriminated against because of race, color, religious creed, disability, handicap, ancestry, sexual orientation, national origin, age or sex.”

11 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 2633
Children in foster care
“Children in foster care shall be provided with the following:
(1) Treatment with fairness, dignity and respect.
(2) Freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, disability, national origin, age or gender.
(3) Freedom from harassment, corporal punishment, unreasonable restraint and physical, sexual, emotional and other abuse.
. . .
(12) An environment that maintains and reflects the child’s culture as may be reasonably accommodated.”

Policy:

None known.

State Agency Website:

http://www.dhs.pa.gov/citizens/childwelfareservices/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
Regional Children Youth and Families Offices
http://bit.ly/2by3AwQ

Additional Provisions:

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has no explicit protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in statute, regulation or agency policy for youth in the child welfare system.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

None known.

State Agency Website:

http://www2.pr.gov/agencias/adfan/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

None known.

Additional Provisions:

Rhode Island*

Rhode Island has statutory- and regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. The state has a nondiscrimination policy for LGBTQI youth in the child welfare system.

The state prohibits engaging in “conversion therapy efforts” with anyone younger than eighteen. The law defines conversion therapy as “any practices or treatments that seek to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” 23 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. §§ 23-94-2-4.

Rhode Island has an Office of the Child Advocate.

Statute:

R.I. Gen. Laws 42-72-15
Children’s bill of rights
“(q) No child shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has, or is perceived to have, one or more of such characteristics.”

Regulation:

R.I. Code R. 14-3-101:1
Residential Child Care Regulations for Licensure: General Provisions
“The Department of Children, Youth, and Families does not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religious belief, political belief or handicap. The prohibition against discriminatory practices extends to the agencies, organizations and institutions the Department licenses.”

R.I. Code R. 14-3-174:1-II
Foster Care and Adoption Regulations for Licensure: Statement of Intent
“The Department does not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religious belief, political belief or handicap. The prohibition against discriminatory practices extends to the individuals, agencies, organizations and institutions the Department licenses.”

Policy:

Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (Nov. 10, 2016)
http://bit.ly/2DlmLdp

State Agency Website:

http://www.dcyf.ri.gov/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

Rhode Island Office of the Child Advocate
Louis Pastor Building 4th Floor
57 Howard Avenue
Cranston, Rhode Island 02920
Phone: (401) 462-4300
Fax: (401) 462-4305
http://www.child-advocate.ri.gov/index.php

Additional Provisions:

South Carolina

South Carolina has no explicit protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. Sex is a protected class in regulation, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services “Children and Youth in Foster Care Bill of Rights” provides that youth have the right to “[b]e cared for without regard to . . . sex[.]” The Department of Social Services has policy-based protection based on sex for anyone seeking to access services.

In 2018, the governor issued an executive order directing that “DSS shall not deny licensure to faith-based [child placing agencies] solely on account of their religious identity and sincerely held religious beliefs” and directing DSS “to review and revise its policies and manuals in accordance with this Order and ensure that DSS does not directly or indirectly penalize religious identity or activity[.]” S.C. Exec. Order No. 2018-12 (Mar. 13, 2018).

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits any private, faith-based child placing agency to “decline to provide any service that conflicts with, or provide any service under circumstances that conflict with, a sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the faith-based child placing agency.” H. 4950, para. 38.29, 122nd Leg. (S.C. 2018).

South Carolina has an Office of Children’s Affairs.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

S.C. Code Regs. 114-200
Department of Social Services: Civil Rights: Definitions
“E. Discrimination - to deny unlawfully to any individual, on the basis of race, color, national origin, qualified disability, sex, age, religion, or political belief, or other unlawful basis, the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid of any program administered by the Department.”

S.C. Code Regs. 114-210
Department of Social Services: Civil Rights: Non-Discriminatory Practices
“B. The Department shall not, directly or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements:
1. Deny unlawfully to any individual, on the basis of race, color, national origin, qualified disability, sex, age, religion, or political belief, or other unlawful basis, the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid of any program administered by it;
2. Aid or perpetuate unlawful discrimination against a client by contracting with, licensing, or otherwise utilizing providers who discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, qualified disability, sex, age, religion, political beliefs, or other unlawful basis.”

Policy:

South Carolina Department of Social Services
SCDSS Children and Youth in Foster Care Bill of Rights
“I have the right to:
1. Be treated as a normal and important human being.
2. Be cared for with love and affection.
3. Be provided adequate food, shelter and clothing.
4. Be heard and involved with the decisions of my life.”
. . .
17. Be cared for without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, religion or disability.”
https://dss.sc.gov/resource-library/forms_brochures/files/30163.pdf

South Carolina Department of Social Services
Nondiscrimination Statement
“This Agency is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex and in some cases religion or political beliefs.”
https://dss.sc.gov/privacy-statement/

State Agency Website:

https://dss.sc.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

South Carolina State Office of Children’s Affairs
Office of Children’s Affairs
1200 Senate Street, Suite 104
Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Phone: (803) 734-5049
Fax: (803) 734-0799
http://ca.sc.gov/

Additional Provisions:

South Dakota

South Dakota has Department of Social Services policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits child placement agencies to refuse to provide “any service under circumstances that conflict with any sincerely-held religious belief or moral conviction of the child-placement agency.” S.B. 149, 92nd Leg. (S.D. 2017).

South Dakota’s Department of Social Services has a Constituent Liaison.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

South Dakota Department of Social Services
Notice of Nondiscrimination
“As a recipient of Federal financial assistance and a State or local governmental agency, the Department of Social Services does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the ground of race, color, or national origin, or on the basis of disability or age in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs, activities, or services, whether carried out by the Department of Social Services directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which the Department of Social Services arranges to carry out its programs and activities; or on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in, its programs, activities, or services when carried out by the Department of Social Services directly or when carried out by sub-recipients of grants issued by the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence against Women.”
https://dss.sd.gov/keyresources/discrimination.aspx

State Agency Website:

https://dss.sd.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

South Dakota Department of Social Services
Constituent Liaison
700 Governor’s Drive
Pierre, South Dakota 57501
Toll-Free: (800) 597-1603
Email: DSSConstituentLiaison@state.sd.us
http://dss.sd.gov/keyresources/legal/grievance.aspx

Additional Provisions:

Tennessee*

The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services “Clients Rights Handbook” provides protection against discrimination on account of gender, sexual orientation and “sexual identity” for youth in the child welfare system. In addition, Tennessee has a policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTI youth in care.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

State of Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures 20.20, Guidelines for Managing Children/Youth in DCS Custody Related to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (Jan. 30, 2015)
https://files.dcs.tn.gov/policies/chap20/20.20.pdf

Tennessee Department of Children’s Services
Clients Rights Handbook (Dec. 2016)
“You have the right to:
Available services, regardless of your age, race, ethnicity, gender, religious or political affiliation, sexual orientation, sexual identity, physical or mental disability, or infectious disease, and the right to referral, as appropriate, to other service providers.”
http://bit.ly/2B7DwUa

State Agency Website:

https://www.tn.gov/dcs/

Grievance Procedure:

None known.

Ombudsman:

Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth
Andrew Johnson Tower, 9th Floor
710 James Robertson Parkway
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0800
Phone: (615) 532-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 264-0904
Fax: (615) 532-1591
http://www.tn.gov/tccy/topic/ombuds

Additional Provisions:

Texas

Texas has no known protection against discrimination on account of sex (or gender), sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has policy-based discrimination on account of sex for anyone seeking to access services.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits child welfare service providers to refuse to “provide . . . child welfare services that conflict with . . . the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.” H.B. 3859, 85th Leg. (Tex. 2017).

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has an “Office of Consumer Affairs.”

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 263.008
Foster Children’s Bill of Rights
“(b) It is the policy of this state that each child in foster care be informed of the child’s rights provided by state or federal law or policy that relate to:
(1) abuse, neglect, exploitation, discrimination, and harassment;
. . .
(14) participation in the development of service and treatment plans[.]”

Policy:

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Child Protective Services Handbook
1240 General Eligibility Criteria for Child Protective Services
“DFPS must not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or handicap in providing child protective services.”
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/handbooks/CPS/Files/CPS_pg_1200.asp

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Rights of Children and Youth in Foster Care
“As a child or youth in foster care I have the right to:
. . .
5. Be treated fairly.”
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/About_Foster_Care/rights.asp

State Agency Website:

https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Office of Consumer Affairs
PO Box 149030
Austin, Texas 78714-9030
Toll-Free: (800) 720-7777
Fax: (512) 339-5892
Email: oca@dfps.state.tx.us
https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Contact_Us/Questions_and_Complaints/OCA.asp

Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Office of the Ombudsman, MC H-700
PO Box 13247
Austin, Texas 78711-3247
Toll-Free: (877) 787-8999
TDD: (888) 425-6889
Fax: (888) 780-8099
http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/about_hhsc/contact/contact.shtml

Additional Provisions:

Utah*

Utah has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. In regulation, sex and sexual orientation are listed as protected classes. Utah has a policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQI youth in care. The Department of Human Services has a nondiscrimination policy inclusive of gender for anyone seeking to access services.

Utah has an Office of Child Protection Ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Utah Admin. Code r. R501-12-13
Child’s Rights in Foster Care.
“(1) Foster parents shall not violate a foster child’s right to:
. . .
(f) be protected from discrimination based upon the child's race, color, national origin, culture, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, political affiliation, or disability[.]”

Policy:

Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services, Out-of-Home Services, Practice Guidelines 300.5, Safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth (rev’d Sept. 2017)
https://hspolicy.utah.gov/files/dcfs/DCFS%20Practice%20Guidelines/300-%20Out-of-Home%20Care.pdf

Utah’s Division of Child and Family Services, Out-of-Home Services, Practice Guidelines Appendix B, How to Create a Climate of Safety and Convey Support for Children and Youth (rev’d Nov. 2012)
https://hspolicy.utah.gov/files/dcfs/DCFS%20Practice%20Guidelines/300.5-%20Appendix%20B.pdf

Utah Department of Human Services
Commitment to Civil Rights
“At the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS), we prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender or religion. DHS is committed to making its programs, benefits, services and facilities accessible in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”
http://www.ocpo.utah.gov/complaints/how-to-file-a-complaint/

State Agency Website:

https://dcfs.utah.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Utah Department of Human Services
Office of Child Protection Ombudsman
120 North 120 200 West
Room 422 - PO Box 45500
Salt Lake City, Utah 84145-0500
Phone: (801) 538-4589
Toll-Free: (800) 868-6413
Fax: (801) 538-3942
http://www.hsocpo.utah.gov/

Additional Provisions:

Vermont*

Vermont has Agency of Human Services-based policy protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation and gender identity for youth in the child welfare system. The state has a policy specific to upholding the rights of LGBTQI youth in care. 

Vermont prohibits mental health care providers from practicing “conversion therapy” on minors under 18 years of age. The law defines conversion therapy as any practice that “seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 18, §§ 8351-8353.

Vermont has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

12-3 Vt. Code R. § 508
Licensing Regulations for Residential Treatment Programs: General Provisions
“201 A Residential Treatment Program shall ensure children/youth the following rights:
• to be served under humane conditions with respect for their dignity and privacy;
. . .
• to receive gender specific, culturally competent and linguistically appropriate service[.]”

Policy:

Vermont Department for Children and Families, Family Services Policy Manual 76, Supporting and Affirming LGBTQ Children & Youth (Jan. 30, 2017)
http://dcf.vermont.gov/sites/dcf/files/FSD/Policies/76.pdf

State of Vermont Agency of Human Services
Chapter/Number 1.11, Non-Discrimination regarding receipt of services and benefits (May 13, 2009)
“[B]enefits and services offered to applicants and recipients must be provided without discrimination based on race, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, or other factors, as required by law.”
http://humanservices.vermont.gov/policy-legislation/policies/01-general-operations-policies/doc051309non-discriminationpolicy.pdf/view

State Agency Website:

http://dcf.vermont.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Vermont Department for Children and Families
Consumer Concerns Team
103 South Main Street - 2nd Floor, 5 North
Waterbury, Vermont 05671-5920
Phone: (802) 871-3385
http://dcf.vermont.gov/concerns-complaints

Additional Provisions:

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Social Services has policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or gender expression, for anyone seeking to access services.

The state has a religious refusal law, which permits any “private child-placing agency” to refuse to “participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency’s written religious or moral convictions or policies.” Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1709.3.

Virginia has no known ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

None known.

Policy:

Virginia Department of Social Services
Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Auxiliary Grant Program, Administrative Issues
“The Virginia Department of Social Services requires that all individuals be assured of the uniform application of procedures in determining eligibility for services and financial assistance. There must be no discrimination against applicants or participants in any aspect of program administration for reasons of age, race, color, sex, disability, sexual orientation, marital/family status, religion, national origin, or political beliefs.”
http://bit.ly/2mPJZPi

Virginia Department of Social Services
Child and Family Services Manual (Feb. 2013)
1.9 Monitoring approved homes/providers
“The provider shall provide care that does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, religion, political beliefs, sexual orientation, disability, or family status.”
http://bit.ly/2rcS3P2

Virginia Department of Social Services
Civil Rights Policy & Procedures
“The Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and local social services offices, in accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, religion or political beliefs.”
http://www.dss.virginia.gov/about/civil_rights/

State Agency Website:

http://www.dss.virginia.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Virginia Department of Social Services
801 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-3301
Phone: (804) 726-7011
Fax: (804) 726-7015
Email: comm@dss.virginia.gov
http://www.dss.state.va.us/appeals/cps.cgi

Additional Provisions:

Washington

Washington has regulatory- and Department of Social and Health Services (DHS) policy-based protection against discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression for youth in the child welfare system. DHS has a policy promoting safety for LGBTQ people.

State law prohibits “[p]erforming conversion therapy on a person under age eighteen,” defining conversion therapy as “a regime that seeks to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.” S.B. 5722, 65th Leg. (Wash. 2018).

Washington has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Wash. Admin. Code 388-147-1595
Licensing Requirements for Child Placing Agency and Adoption Services: Service Planning
What are the requirements about nondiscrimination?
“You must follow all state and federal laws regarding nondiscrimination while providing services to children in your care. You must treat foster children in your care with dignity and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation and gender identity. You must connect a child with resources that meets a child’s needs regarding race, religion, culture, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Wash. Admin. Code 388-148-1520
Licensing Requirements for Child Foster Homes: Services to Children
What services am I expected to provide for children in my care?
“(6) You must follow all state and federal laws regarding nondiscrimination while providing services to children in your care. You must treat foster children in your care with dignity and respect regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Policy:

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, Promoting Safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning People (Rev. Sept. 2013)
https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/SESA/publications/documents/22-1511.pdf

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Nondiscrimination Policy (rev’d Feb. 2017)
“The Washington state Department of Social and Health Services is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, race, creed, color, national origin, religion or beliefs, political affiliation, military status, honorably discharged veteran, Vietnam Era, recently separated or other protected veteran status, the presence of any sensory, mental, physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, equal pay or genetic information.”
https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/SESA/publications/documents/Non-discrim%2022-171.pdf

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Administrative Policy #7.22, Cultural Competence (Sept. 22, 2011)
“Purpose: To create and maintain an environment within the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) that values and supports cultural competence and embraces respect for the individual differences of our employees and clients. The Department recognizes that everyone has a culture and we have a commitment to promote respect and understanding of diverse cultures, social groups, and individual attributes. Each DSHS administration will ensure cultural competence is integrated into the overall organizational culture and ongoing business.
. . .
For the purposes of this policy, diversity includes and is not limited to the following dimensions listed alphabetically:
. . .
Gender . . . Gender identity & expression . . . Sexual orientation
https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/SESA/odi/documents/07-22.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://www.dshs.wa.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Washington State Office of the Family & Children’s Ombuds
6720 Fort Dent Way, Suite 240
Mail Stop TT-99
Tukwila, Washington 98188
Phone: (206) 439-3870
Toll-Free: (800) 571-7321
Fax: (206) 439-3877
http://ofco.wa.gov/

Additional Provisions:

West Virginia

West Virginia has regulatory- and policy-based protection against discrimination on account of gender and sexual orientation for youth in the child welfare system. The state’s Youth Services Policy requires child welfare workers to treat LGBTQI youth with “respect and competence” and to adhere to all relevant state and federal laws.

West Virginia has a Department of Health and Human Services ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

W. Va. Code St. R. 78-2-9
The Child’s and The Child’s Family’s Basic Rights.
“9.1. For the child and the child’s biological family, an agency shall ensure the following rights:
9.1.a. Equal access to services regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation[.]”

Policy:

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Bureau for Children and Families
Youth Services Policy (Oct. 31, 2017)
“Effective intervention requires that Youth Services respond in a non-punitive noncritical manner and offer help in the least intrusive way possible. Children and Families shall be treated with dignity and respect by the child welfare staff and all providers of service working with them. It is the Child Welfare System’s responsibility to ensure the rights of children and families being served are protected. In doing so, Child Welfare workers (including Youth service workers, Child Protective Workers, & any agency contracted by the DHHR) shall not assume all children in care are heterosexual, non-transgender or gender-conforming and will treat Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Intersex (LGBTQI) Youth with respect and competence. They will also adhere to State and Federal Laws related to LGBTQI Youth. All professionals in state and local child welfare systems have an obligation to understand and adhere to the federal laws that protect the families and children in the communities they serve.

Decisions made by Child Welfare Workers, (including Youth Service Workers, Child Protective Service Workers, & any agency contracted by the DHHR) should be made without intentional or unintentional discrimination. This includes discriminating on the basis of age, race, color, sex, mental or physical disability, religious creed, national origin, sexual orientation, political beliefs and limited proficiency in speaking, reading, writing or understanding the English language.” http://dhhr.wv.gov/bcf/policy/Documents/Youth%20Services%20Policy.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://dhhr.wv.gov/bcf/Pages/default.aspx

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
Office of Client Services
350 Capital Street - Room 513
Charleston, West Virginia 25301
Toll-Free: (800) 642-8589
http://bit.ly/2lkL8A3

Additional Provisions:

Wisconsin

Wisconsin has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of sex and sexual orientation for youth in the child welfare system. Sex is a protected class in Department of Children and Families policy. Chapter 3 of the state’s Foster Parent Handbook contains a section on working with LGBTQI youth.

Wisconsin has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Wis. Admin. Code DC § 56.09
Care of foster children.
“(1) PRINCIPLES FOR NURTURING CARE. The foster parent shall provide nurturing care to each child placed in a foster home. Nurturing care is care that does all of the following:
. . .
(e) Does not discriminate against the child because of the child’s race or cultural identification, sex, age, sexual orientation, color, creed, ancestry, national origin or disability.”

Wis. Admin. Code DC § 52.11
Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth: Administration
Licensee Responsibilities
“(24) NON-DISCRIMINATION. Ensure that the residential care center does not discriminate against a resident based on the resident’s race or cultural identification, sex, sexual orientation, age, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, political affiliations, or religious beliefs.”

Wis. Admin. Code DC § 54.04
Child Placing Agencies
Social services.
“(1) GENERAL REQUIREMENTS.
(a) The agency shall provide services to children who need and seek its care without discrimination on the basis of race or cultural identification, sex, sexual orientation, age, creed, ancestry, disability, political affiliations, religious beliefs, color, or national origin.”

Wis. Admin. Code DC § 57.05
Group Homes: General Provisions
Group home program and policies.
“(1) PROGRAM STATEMENT. Each group home shall have a written program statement that shall include all of the following:
. . .
(f) A non-discrimination statement that indicates that the group home does not discriminate against a resident because of race or cultural identification, sex, sexual orientation, age, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, disability, political affiliations, or religious beliefs.”

Policy:

State of Wisconsin Foster Parent Handbook, Chapter 3, Caring for Children in Foster Care, pp.46-47, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth (2017)
https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/publications/pdf/5000chapter3.pdf

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
Equal Opportunity is the Law (Apr. 2017)
“It is against the law for this recipient agency of Federal financial assistance to discriminate on the following bases:
Against any individual in the United States, on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief[.]” https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/files/publications/pdf/2497.pdf

State Agency Website:

https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
201 East Washington Avenue, Second Floor
PO Box 8916
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 267-3905
Fax: (608) 266-6836
Email: dcfweb@wisconsin.gov
http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/CWComplaint.htm

Wyoming

Wyoming has regulatory-based protection against discrimination on account of gender and sexual orientation, but not gender identity or expression, for youth in the child welfare system.

Wyoming has a child welfare ombudsman.

Statute:

None known.

Regulation:

Wyo. Admin. Code § FAMS PS Ch. 3 s 22
Child Rights.
“All organizations shall develop and maintain a child’s rights policy that supports and protects the fundamental human, civil, constitutional, and statutory rights of all children. These rights shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
. . .
(b) Every child and family shall have equal access to services regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, socio-economic status or gender[.]”
(See also: http://bit.ly/2zUAPWP)

Wyo. Admin. Code § FAMS PS Ch. 3 s 2
Administrative Rules for Certification of Providers of Substitute Care Services for Children: General Requirements
Responsibilities of the Organization.
“(a) The organization shall develop policies and procedures that assure proper protection, care and treatment of children, as follows:
(i) Ensure that no child, on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin, is excluded from participation in, is denied benefits of, or is subjected to discrimination in receipt of services by the organization[.]”

Policy:

Wyoming Department of Family Services
Policy No. AHR - 3.15, HR Policies and Procedures (rev’d Oct. 1, 2014)
“As a recipient of Federal financial assistance, the Department of Family Services (DFS) does not exclude, deny benefits to, or otherwise discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, political beliefs or age in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits of any of its programs and activities, whether carried out by DFS directly or through a contractor or any other entity with whom the DFS arranges to carry out its programs and activities.”
http://bit.ly/2CQX81B

State Agency Website:

http://dfsweb.wyo.gov/

Grievance Procedure:
Ombudsman:

Wyoming Department of Family Services
Complaint Resolution/Ombudsman
Hathaway Building - 2300 Capitol Avenue, 3rd Floor
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002
Phone: (307) 777-6031
Toll-Free: (800) 457-3659
Fax: (307) 777-7747
Email: Kristie.langley@wyo.gov
https://sites.google.com/a/wyo.gov/dfsweb/home/about-us/director-s-office/complaint-resolution

Additional Provisions: