Texas CASA is proud to announce that we have received the All Children – All Families (ACAF) Seal of Recognition as a 2019 “Innovator in Supporting and Serving LGBTQ Youth & Families”! This seal is awarded to child welfare organizations that demonstrate a commitment to supporting and serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) children and youth in care. It is also the highest of three levels of recognition that organizations participating in the ACAF process can receive.
LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system, both in Texas and nationwide. In fact, according to a recent study, more than 30% of youth in care identify as LGBTQ, compared to about 11% of the general youth population. These youth face all the same challenges and barriers their non-LGBTQ peers face while in care, such as dealing with trauma, placement changes, falling behind in school, mental health challenges and more – but with the added layer of fear of further rejection, abuse and harassment if they are open about their LGBTQ identity.
All Children – All Families, a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, seeks to improve practice with these youth by promoting LGBTQ-inclusive policies and affirming practices among child welfare agencies through an annual engagement cycle. Beginning in May of each year, ACAF participants measure their current level of LGBTQ inclusion through an online Agency Self-Assessment, which focuses on seven key policy and practice benchmarks. Agencies participating in ACAF for the first time work to improve their policies and practices, with ACAF’s expert assistance, until all benchmarks are met. Agencies renewing their ACAF seal also complete the Self-Assessment, with the purpose of demonstrating their continued commitment and leadership, and finding areas where they can improve.
Texas CASA was proud to have been one of the first two organizations in Texas, and only the second CASA organization nationally, to receive the ACAF Seal of Recognition in 2016. Texas CASA has renewed its seal each year since, as an important part of the organization’s efforts to continue strengthening its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Texas CASA encourages CASA programs and other child welfare organizations to consider participating in ACAF! Interested? Visit the ACAF website to learn more about ACAF, including how your organization can request to participate. ACAF also offers a CASA-specific guide to their seven benchmarks of LGBTQ inclusion, as well as free resources for child welfare professionals.