An estimated 2 million LGBTQ adults are interested in adoption in the United States. Decades of social science research shows us that LGBTQ parents are just as good as non-LGBTQ parents. And every major professional association dedicated to ensuring American families are happy and healthy have released statements in support of LGBTQ parenting. Despite these facts, LGBTQ adults remain an untapped resource for the thousands of young people awaiting permanent families.
An agency that is welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ parents within its policies and practices should specifically target multiple, diverse LGBTQ communities in its efforts to reach and recruit prospective parents.
Preparing for Changes to Recruitment Strategies
Before any major changes to external recruitment practices, make sure you have done the necessary work internally to build your agency’s capacity to welcome LGBTQ parents.
- Ensure crucial policies are in place and a “welcome mat” has been created by reviewing the following for LGBTQ inclusion:
- Agency’s physical space (visual cues of LGBTQ inclusion such as diverse family photos)
- Marketing/outreach materials (website, brochures, newsletters, etc.)
- Initial phone contact
- Introductory seminars/orientation sessions
- Parent preparation training
- All staff that have direct contact with clients should at minimum have foundational LGBTQ cultural competency training.
- Agency leadership should prepare to respond to any pushback related to its efforts to recruit LGBTQ parents. This may come from board members, current resource parents, or other community members. This could result in the loss of some current resource parents. Consider how your agency will work to replace those resource parents.
Two Approaches to LGBTQ Recruitment
- Enhance current recruitment strategies.
- Word of mouth can be one of the strongest recruitment tools; look for ways to increase support to your current parents.
- Review existing parent support groups and ensure they are LGBTQ-inclusive.
- Highlight the stories of current LGBTQ parents and teens/young adults with LGBTQ foster/adoptive parents at recruitment events, host small orientation sessions in their homes, etc.
- Ensure staff recruiting LGBTQ parents are particularly LGBTQ-culturally competent and experienced/comfortable interacting with members of the LGBTQ community
- Enact new, targeted outreach.
- Work in partnership with local LGBTQ institutions to maximize your agency’s ability to connect with prospective LGBTQ parents.
- Seek input from the LGBTQ community prior to launching a major outreach effort. This can be done formally through an advisory board or task force or informally through relationships your agency has formed with your local LGBTQ community.
- Identify a diverse set of existing families to share their stories at small, in-person recruitment presentations, where prospective parents can hear real stories.
- Create a large-scale media campaign to brand your agency as LGBTQ-friendly to a wide audience.
- Establish a safe space for LGBTQ parents by creating new support groups for LGBTQ parents.
Sample Recruitment Campaigns:
- Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, launched this campaign that highlights their commitment to welcoming a diverse demographic of families.
- Children’s Home and Aid designed this recruitment campaign targeting their local LGBTQ community.
- All Children - All Families Training Curriculum
Module 3 of the curriculum addresses parent recruitment
- Strategies for Recruiting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families, Children’s Bureau, 2012
Best practices for parent recruitment from the National Resource Center for Adoption, the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections, and the National Resource Center for Recruitment and Retention of Foster and Adoptive Parents at AdoptUSKids.
- Engaging LGBT Families - Talking with Experts: Creating a Welcoming Environment, AdoptUSKids, 2010
Three experts share the best tools and practices for child welfare agencies to create a welcoming organizational atmosphere.