All Children - All Families: Inclusive Parent Preparation and Support

All Children - All Families: Inclusive Parent Preparation and Support

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LGBTQ+-headed adoptive and foster families, like other adoptive and foster families, need to be provided support, counsel, and nurturance into the future.

In this resource, HRC provides guidance and resources for inclusive recruitment practices LGBTQ+ inclusive parent preparation training for both adoptive and foster parents, key considerations for conducting LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming home studies and strategies to provide post-permanency support.

This includes creating a list of referral services that are vetted and found to be LGBTQ+ competent. By following this guidance, you are setting your agency and the LGBTQ+ adoptive/foster families and the children they are taking care of for success.


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

  • Paperwork/forms

  • 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:

  • 1 - 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.

  • 2 - 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.

Additional Resources:

LGBTQ+ Inclusive Parent Preparation Training

The All Children - All Families Benchmarks of LGBTQ+ Inclusion focus on two key components of LGBTQ+-inclusive parent preparation training: 1) ensure trainers have the expertise to welcome LGBTQ+ foster adoptive parents and 2) adequately preparing all resource parents to be LGBTQ+ affirming is reviewing and updating parent preparation training activities to ensure LGBTQ+ inclusion.

All parent preparation training delivered by or required by agencies should be inclusive of both LGBTQ+ parents that may be in the room and content specific to the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in care (as applicable to the work of your agency. All agencies, even if they do not provide placement services, must provide LGBTQ+-inclusive and supportive information or services to the families they serve.

How to Ensure Trainer Expertise:

It’s imperative that all trainers be skilled in creating a safe and affirming atmosphere for LGBTQ+ prospective parents and discuss content specific to LGBTQ+ youth in care. Trainers should receive guidance that includes:

  • The agency’s relevant policies and mission statements re: LGBTQ+ inclusion and non-discrimination.

  • Tips for creating an LGBTQ+-friendly environment.

  • Instructions for how to address any direct or indirect homo/bi/transphobic remarks that come up in the class. This includes setting the expectation that any negative remarks should not go unaddressed and the person making the remarks should be held accountable.

  • Information for the trainer on how to best support families targeted by negative remarks.

LGBTQ+-Inclusive Content:

Training should meet the following goals:

  • Be inclusive of LGBTQ+-headed families as examples of families your agency works with throughout the training. This may also include:
    • Information on relevant laws affecting LGBTQ+ foster and adoptive parents.

    • LGBTQ+ community references and family groups for social/community connection

    • Matching LGBTQ+ families with staff who have proven experience working with LGBTQ+ families.

  • Discuss LGBTQ+ youth specifically when covering the diverse population of youth represented in foster care.

  • Educate prospective resource parents on the importance of LGBTQ+ affirming behaviors, the harm that rejection causes, and concrete examples of how to support and affirm LGBTQ+ youth in their homes. Note that not all children and youth feel safe disclosing their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression (SOGIE) or they may not even be aware of their SOGIE at the time of placement. Therefore, it is possible that any child or youth that a parent adopts or fosters, could ultimately “come out” one day.

  • Provide opportunities to practice using LGBTQ+-inclusive language and build skills for talking about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression comfortably.

  • Include images, exercises, and examples that are representative of the full diversity of the LGBTQ+ community (i.e. race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, physical ability, etc.)

Examples of LGBTQ+-Inclusive Content to Include:

  • Sample exercises that use LGBTQ+ families as the focus.

  • Sample exercises that use LGBTQ+ youth in care as the focus.

  • Stories that share the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth in care.

  • Stories that share the experiences of LGBTQ+ families.

  • Instructions for organizing an LGBTQ+ parent panel.

Additional Best Practices:

  • Consider organizing an LGBTQ+ foster/adoptive parent panel to be included in the parent preparation training.

  • If your agency uses one of the common parent preparation programs such as Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP) and Parent Resources for Information, Development, and Education (PRIDE), you can alter the language and exercises to include LGBTQ+ families and youth.

  • If you outsource the parent training, check in with the trainers to ensure that they have a policy of inclusion and are prepared to provide LGBTQ+ inclusive training.

  • Be mindful not to conflate sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Examples, images, and exercises should reflect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer families (rather than only lesbian and gay families).

  • Pay special attention to where you place LGBTQ+-inclusive content. It should not be limited to just one slide or one particular section of the presentation. Look for opportunities to be LGBTQ+-inclusive throughout the presentation such as when discussing adoption/foster care statistics or other types of prospective families like trans-racial families.

  • Consider using videos as an effective medium to share LGBTQ+-inclusive stories during training sessions.

Additional Resources:

Key Considerations for Conducting
LGBTQ+ Inclusive & Affirming Home Studies

This guide was produced by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s All Children – All Families program and discusses key considerations for conducting LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming home studies. For each topic area, potential questions are listed as well as the rationale for each question, and additional considerations to keep in mind.

Topics covered include:

  • Coming Out and Living Openly

  • Support Network

  • Coping with Homo/Bi/Transphobia and Understanding Differences

  • Pathway to Parenthood

  • Partnerships and Relationships

  • Gender Identity and Transition

Download LGBTQ Affirming Homestudy Questions & Rationale [PDF]

Post-Permanency Support

Either through their own work or by connecting families with external services, organizations should provide post-permanency support to LGBTQ+ families. However, supporting LGBTQ+-headed families requires a deep understanding of their unique developmental paths.

Examples of Family Support:

  • Educational Seminars
    • Agencies that offer seminars for adoptive and foster families should ensure that seminars address the additional layers of diversity and the developmental path of LGBTQ+-headed families.

  • Support Groups
    • Agencies that offer support groups for adoptive and foster families should ensure that they address the additional layers of diversity and the development path of LGBTQ+-headed families. If agencies do not themselves sponsor such groups, social workers will be familiar with external support resources available for LGBTQ+-headed adoptive and foster families.

  • Family Counseling and Mental Health Services
    • Because the services adoptive families need will change as their children age, the organization will provide access to family counseling or mental health services or refer clients to external services. It will ensure that those who deliver these services are competent in dealing with the specific developmental paths of LGBTQ+-headed adoptive and foster families.

  • Working with Schools
    • In all its post-permanency services, the organization will help its families navigate schools regarding issues that arise for children and youth in foster care or who are adopted, including issues that arise because the children are in an LGBTQ+ family.

See also:

All Children – All Families Training Curriculum

LGBTQ+ Competent Referrals

A critical component of LGBTQ+ inclusive practice is building a list of LGBTQ+ competent referrals in light of unique challenges LGBTQ+ individuals face when seeking competent and affirming services. The work your agency has done to ensure a competent, inclusive environment for the youth and families you serve could be undone by a referral to an outside agency/provider that is ill-equipped to serve, or worse, discriminatory, toward LGBTQ+ individuals. Referrals should be made to agencies that are knowledgeable about LGBTQ+ competent practices and have LGBTQ+ inclusive non-discrimination policies.

Tips for Creating a Helpful, Comprehensive Referral List:

  • Your agency could maintain a separate document for LGBTQ+ competent referrals in various service areas in order to supplement an existing referral list. Or your agency could indicate within its general referral lists which providers are proven to be LGBTQ+ inclusive. Either of these options will signify to your LGBTQ+ clients that your agency is mindful of the need to identify LGBTQ+ competent referrals.

  • Ensure that all clients have access to the LGBTQ+ competent referral list since you may not always know for which clients LGBTQ+ competency is a priority.

  • Providing a description or specific information about an agency such as “experienced in gender dysphoria related counseling” could assist clients in choosing providers.

  • Continually update the referral list when information about new providers is gathered or relevant feedback is received about current providers listed.

Tips for Identifying LGBTQ+ Competent Referrals Near You:

  • Foster a relationship with a local LGBTQ+ community center. Center staff can assist in identifying providers that have proven LGBTQ+ competent and welcoming. See CenterLink for information on LGBTQ+ centers in your area.

  • Check out any LGBTQ+ specific media in your area (e.g., newspapers, magazines, websites) to see who is advertising in these spaces and/or what information is available via “word of mouth” within the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Take advantage of national resources such as the HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index to gauge the environment of local healthcare facilities for your LGBTQ+ clients.

  • Use online search tools such as the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory to find LGBTQ+ competent service providers.

  • Engage your current LGBTQ+ clients in a dialogue about LGBTQ+ competent providers and agencies.

Click here to download a template referral list to adapt to your agency’s needs.