Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal Announce Partnership in Effort to Help Gay and Lesbian Foster Youth Transition into Adulthood

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September 18, 2003

Washington, DC - The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (Lambda Legal) have launched an historic partnership to fundamentally change the way lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth are treated in the nation’s foster care system. The three-year venture, “Fostering Transitions: CWLA/Lambda Legal Joint Initiative To Support LGBTQ Youth and Adults Involved with the Child Welfare System,” is supported by a grant from the Andrus Family Fund.

From neglect to sexual assault to brutal beatings and attempts at "conversion therapy," lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (“LGBTQ”) youth in foster care are often unsupported, unprotected and unsafe. As a result, many become adults and age out of the foster care system badly damaged and unequipped to become healthy, productive members of society. The CWLA/Lambda Legal Joint Initiative will, for the first time, make LGBTQ youth a clear priority for child welfare agencies nationwide. Lambda Legal and CWLA will create a local and national structure to increase the will and capacity of these agencies to serve and support LGBTQ youth, and will substantially improve training, publications, model programs and develop other tools to help agencies address LGBTQ youth issues.

“The powerful combination of Lambda Legal’s leadership on LGBTQ youth issues and CWLA’s access and expertise with local child welfare agencies put the partnering organizations in a unique position to improve thousands of young people’s lives,” said Shay Bilchik, President & CEO of CWLA.

A national LGBTQ Advisory Network, comprised of CWLA member agencies representing each of CWLA’s six regions, will help guide these efforts. In order to gain insight as to the most pressing needs facing local communities, at least one Listening Forum will be held in each region.

“The partnership between Lambda Legal and CWLA is a critical first step in reaching a very vulnerable LGBTQ youth community. We are excited about the possibilities this joint project will bring,” said Susan Sommer, Supervising Attorney at Lambda Legal.

As a first step, CWLA has hired a full-time staff member to work on the Joint Initiative to develop resources and provide direct assistance on LGBTQ issues to all of CWLA’s member agencies, which include public and private agencies and every state child welfare system.

Established in 1920, and headquartered in Washington, DC, CWLA strives to advance sound public policy on behalf of the more than three million abused, neglected, and vulnerable children served by its nearly 1,100 member agencies. CWLA’s mission is to preserve, protect, and promote the well-being of all children and families.

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Contact: Lisa Hardaway, Lambda Legal: 212-809-8585 Pager: 888-987-1971
Joyce Johnson, CWLA: 202/942-0244 Email:[email protected]


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