Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-09-20
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

An analysis of the state foster-care system
by David Thill
2017-03-29

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


ACLU is advocating for better outcomes for LGBT youth

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has had an official policy on caring for LGBT youth in foster care since 2001, according to DCFS sources. But it seems that many of the people responsible for enforcing that policy are unaware of its existence.

While it does require caregivers to respect LGBT youth, including aspects of gender identity such as preferred name and gender pronoun and clothing choices, the policy is located about 100 pages into the appendix to another DCFS document. Because of its inconspicuous location, many caregivers don't realize that at some point they may serve LGBT youth—and, furthermore, that they have to affirm those LGBT youth, Ghirlandi Guidetti, a graduate of Loyola University's law school and public policy program, and the 2016-2017 Tom Steel fellow, told Windy City Times.

The Tom Steel fellowship, awarded by San Francisco-based Pride Law Fund, funds one project per year "for a new lawyer to work in the United States on an innovative, public interest law project" that serves the LGBT community, according to the fellowship website.

The Illinois branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, where Guidetti has worked since 2015, is sponsoring his fellowship project, which focuses on LGBT youth in Illinois' foster-care system. This population interests him because he feels that early intervention in a child's life "has a lifelong impact," he said.

Guidetti's work is facilitated in part by a consent decree reached through B.H. v. Sheldon, a 1988 lawsuit that the ACLU brought against DCFS. This decree establishes DCFS youth in out-of-home placements—i.e., DCFS youth living in arrangements outside their birth families—as clients of the ACLU, thereby granting Guidetti access to the youths' records. The consent decree also permits him to speak with the youth directly, an important component of the project.

Updating DCFS policy

DCFS is in the process of updating its policy, and Guidetti and the ACLU have offered input to the department throughout this process. The final version is yet to be implemented, but when it is, he said, "We really want to make sure that this isn't just something that goes out in an email never to be seen again.

"It needs to be accompanied with training and oversight so that everyone is aware of the policy and following it, and knows of the resources that are available to them if they have questions or doubts or concerns about how to care for LGBTQ youth."

As it stands, training is often voluntary, and in some cases, it is also outdated, said Guidetti. For example, prospective foster parents can complete the department's PRIDE foster parent training—the name of which is unrelated to LGBT "pride"—"and walk out of it … and still have no idea what it is to be LGBT," he said.

Department representatives have told Guidetti's team that they are working to update the training, and he and his colleagues will follow up to make sure changes are made "in a timely manner," he said. Additionally, the ACLU will ensure that the department adopts mandatory training requirements for caregivers, and that those requirements "meet an appropriate standard," said Guidetti.

From policy to practice

Guidetti believes that Illinois DCFS's heavy reliance on private contractors for services makes it challenging to ensure LGBT foster youth receive appropriate care. Facilities such as group homes and treatment centers are typically licensed by Illinois, but managed by private entities.

Additionally, he pointed out that DCFS oversees the entire state's foster services. By contrast, programs elsewhere oversee smaller areas. For example, New York City's Administration for Children's Services covers New York City, and Los Angeles' Department of Children and Family Services covers Los Angeles County.

Because of these issues, said Guidetti, the ACLU has found that "it's pretty easy to change the policies on paper, but it's hard to … change what happens on the ground."

Guidetti said that lawyers and advocates working in other states' systems have told him that "one of the keys to success is having a champion on the inside—having someone within the department who's passionate about these issues, who wants to help accomplish the same goals.

"There are some very serious problems within DCFS and the way that they're caring for LGBT youth. But I am at least encouraged by the fact that there are … some individuals on the inside who seem to share our desire to fix the problems, and we hope to have them as partners as we advocate for these changes."

Guidetti will continue his fellowship work through August. While the project so far has primarily centered on policy research, the next phase will rely more on interviews with caregivers, DCFS employees, and youth. Connecting with youth can be especially challenging because it can be difficult for them to reach out and share their stories, he said. "It's going to be an ongoing effort to build trust."

To that end, Guidetti said he would "absolutely welcome" anyone involved with DCFS—current and former employees, individuals who have encountered the system, and youth currently or formerly in DCFS care—to reach out to his team to tell their story, in order to assist in the investigation. Readers can learn more and contact Guidetti at the following link: www.aclu-il.org/are-you-lgbtq/.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Chicago's theater community comes together to fight racism, other bias 2017-09-25 - The Chicago theater community came together to fight racism in a special event co-produced by Black Ensemble Theater and Steppenwolf Theatre Company Sept. ...


Gay News

Housing-rights activists protest Cappleman's office 2017-09-25 - Several dozen advocates for the homeless gathered Sept. 25 at the Uptown offices of 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman. The protesters ...


Gay News

HRC Condemns Expanded Muslim Ban 2017-09-25 - WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) reacted to Donald Trump's xenophobic actions extending his Muslim travel ban issued ...


Gay News

Advocates for Student Sexual Assault Survivors condemn Education's ending guidelines 2017-09-25 - Washington, DC — A coalition of legal and policy advocates today condemned a decision by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to rescind and ...


Gay News

Groups watch for judges setting money bonds too high for many to pay 2017-09-25 - On Monday, Sept. 18, a general order by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans aimed at stopping judges from setting bonds that people ...


Gay News

Hate graffiti sprayed on homes of Lincoln Square families 2017-09-24 - In the early-morning hours of Sept. 24, Bradd Easton left his Lincoln Square house that he shares with husband Jeff Zacharias and their ...


Gay News

F U Hate fundraiser for LGBTQ, immigrant Children's Rights Oct. 1 2017-09-23 - CHICAGO ( September 22, 2017 ) — Links Taproom — an All-American craft beer and sausage focused neighborhood bar located at 1559 N ...


Gay News

Michael Johnson bypasses trial, is sentenced to 10 years for hiding HIV status 2017-09-22 - New York, NY, Sept. 21, 2017 — Today, in conclusion to a prosecution short on fairness and riddled with questions about racism and ...


Gay News

DeVos reverses Obama-era guidelines to schools on sexual assault 2017-09-22 - On Sept. 22, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the Obama-era Title IX guidance to schools on dealing with sexual assault on campus. ...


Gay News

GLAD, NCLR react to transgender military ban, anti-transgender judicial nominee 2017-09-20 - ( WASHINGTON, D.C., September 20, 2017 )—Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( ...


 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.