Oregon Department of Human Services
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Supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth and families in Oregon’s child welfare system

Going through foster care or adoption can be tough for any young person. But LGBTQIA2S+ youth often face extra challenges that need more understanding and help. According to the Human Rights Campaign, about 30% of kids in foster care identify as LGBTQIA2S+. These kids usually come into the system for the same reasons as other kids, but they might also have been hurt or rejected because of who they are. It's important for parents, guardians and caregivers to make sure these youth feel safe, accepted and valued. By creating a welcoming place to belong, we can help these young people thrive and lead fulfilling lives. Here are some ways to help support LGBTQIA2S+ youth and families in Oregon's child welfare system:

  • Become a resource (foster) parent: The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) works with Unicorn Solutions, Basic Rights Oregon, and Greater Oregon Behavioral Health, Inc. (GOBHI) to find families who want to help LGBTQIA2S+ kids in foster care. Together we hold regular events called Fostering Pride to teach these families about becoming resource parents for LGBTQIA2S+ youth and how to support their unique needs. People who have been in foster care, current resource families, and mental health professionals usually come to speak and answer questions. Fostering Pride meetings are held online on Zoom, so you can join from anywhere in Oregon. Visit unicornsolutions.org/fostering-pride to learn how to join the next event.

  • Brush up on your LGBTQIA2S+ knowledge: The Oregon Post-Adoption Resource Center (ORPARC) has an online library to help resource, adoptive and guardianship families that are LGBTQIA2S+ or support LGBTQIA2S+ youth. The library includes things like vocabulary terms, educational videos, book recommendations for all ages, and more. It even has suggestions for cultural and faith specific needs.

  • Get involved with affirming organizations: Several local and national organizations help LGBTQIA2S+ youth and families live healthy lives while fighting against discrimination. In Oregon, the New Avenues for Youth Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) offers services like a food pantry, hygiene supplies, gender-affirming clothing, and safe spaces to LGBTQIA2S+ youth. And the TransActive Gender Project at Lewis & Clark Graduate School helps transgender and gender-expansive children and their families with counseling, support groups, and advocacy.
  • Spread the word about crisis resources: If you think someone is in crisis or thinking about suicide, it’s important to know about services that can help them stay safe.
    • The Trevor Project helps LGBTQIA2S+ young people who are struggling. You can call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678 to talk to a counselor.
    • The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline has a phone line for LGBTQIA2S+ people. Call 988 and press 3, or text PRIDE to 988 to talk to a crisis counselor trained to help LGBTQIA2S+ people.
    • The Oregon YouthLine is a free crisis support line where teens can talk to other teens. Call 1-877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863 to connect with a teen or young adult who will listen without judgment.

  • Attend a support group for LGBTQIA2S+ families: If you’re a foster, kinship, adoptive or guardian parent to LGBTQIA2S+ youth, you probably need support too. KEEP is a statewide program that offers safe places for families to connect and share resources. KEEP has support groups, including ones just for LGBTQIA2S+ families. Learn more at oregon.keepforfamilies.org.

    Oregon Department of Human Services   |  Newsroom