All Children - All Families: Non-Discrimination Policies and Procedures

All Children - All Families: Non-Discrimination Policies and Procedures

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Creating a welcoming and affirming environment for LGBTQ+ prospective foster and adoptive parents and employees is a crucial step for any agency.

Within this resource, HRC will provide guidance on how agencies can create employee and client non-discrimination policies, non-discrimination procedures for private contractors, and in the event something does not go as planned, agency grievance procedures.

Agency Employment Non-Discrimination Policies

Written employment non-discrimination policies are the foundation for establishing inclusive workplaces. They guarantee equal treatment and opportunity in hiring, promotions and compensation, and they inform prospective employees about the agency’s values.

The organization’s personnel policy should explicitly prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to create a work environment that is supportive of productivity, stability and diversity of staff. The policy should be written and recorded within an agency’s operation manual or other relevant documentation. It is recommended that the policy be publicly available to new applicants and employees on websites, job postings and in the lobby area.

Sample Policy Language:

  • Adoption STAR, Amherst, NY, "Employment Practices" Excerpt
    • Adoption STAR will not discriminate against applicants or employees on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, veteran's status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability, except where the disability would prevent the performance of the essential requirements of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

  • Connecting Hearts Adoption Services, Orlando, FL, "Employee Non-Discrimination Policy" Notice for Employees
    • Connecting Hearts Adoption Services prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local laws. This notice, which must be signed by all employees and the agency's executive director, explicitly states this commitment to equal opportunity.

More Information on Employment Non-Discrimination:

Workplace Discrimination: Policies, Laws and Legislation

Client Non-Discrimination Policies

Implementing a client non-discrimination policy inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community is one of the first steps to welcoming and affirming LGBTQ+ prospective foster and adoptive parents. These policies must include the terms “sexual orientation,” “gender identity," and "gender expression.”

To ensure transparency for both clients and staff, these policies should be written and recorded within the agency’s operation manual or other relevant documentation and be shared with clients and staff members on agency websites, brochures, and lobby areas, etc.

Sample Policy Language:

  • Children's Home + Aid, Chicago, IL, “Client Rights & Responsibilities Statement”
    • Children’s Home + Aid recognizes, respects, promotes and celebrates the value of cultural diversity and will ensure that your ethnic or cultural customs, practices, and beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, and/or community differences will be respected by agency staff.

  • New Jersey Dept. of Children and Families, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Trenton, NJ, “Be a Foster Parent”
    • The Division will not preclude a person from being a foster parent based solely on their culture, religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, affectional orientation, or marital/civil union or domestic partnership status.

  • Your Adoptive Family, Vashon, WA, “Client Non-Discrimination Clause”
    • Your Adoptive Family does not permit, condone or tolerate discrimination in any form including but not limited to:
      Sex or gender
      Sexual orientation
      Gender Identity or gender expression
      Racial, ethnic or national origin
      Skin color
      Marital Status
      Religious affiliations or belief
      Physical or mental disability or functional limitation
      Military service or lack of military service
      Citizenship status

See also:

Agency Mission & Values Statements

Organizational Partnerships & Non-Discrimination

Agencies that use private contractors to deliver services should ensure that all contractors abide by non-discrimination policies for LGBTQ+ prospective parents and have procedures that reflect that commitment, from recruitment through long-term support after placement or adoption finalization.

For example, many large public agencies use private contractors to deliver some or most of their adoption and foster care services. Contracts between the public agencies and these private vendors set service delivery requirements. Changes in public agency policy or procedure need to be reflected in the work of these private contractors to be meaningful for resource families and waiting children.

The ease of altering or amending contracts varies by jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions may have short-term contracts, while others may review and renew contracts only every 10 years. Some contracts include clauses that require contractors to abide by any new policies and procedures enacted by the public agency, while other contracts are more limited in scope.

Procedures should be in place to avoid partnerships (both formal and informal) with organizations and service providers who actively discriminate against or cause harm to the LGBTQ+ community. Agencies should also have a formalized method through which they require organizational partners to meet their LGBTQ+-inclusive non-discrimination standards.

All Children – All Families has identified the following best practices in working to ensure non-discrimination policies extend to organizational partnerships:

  • Conducting educational or advocacy activities for LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming practice among organizational partners and collaborators.

  • Including in contracts with service providers specific requirements that the contractor implement LGBTQ+-inclusive and affirming practice.

  • Including in contracts explicit mention of non-discrimination statement, and/or requiring service providers to sign a separate non-discrimination statement with every contract.

  • If agencies handle home studies, post-placement services/counseling and/or other adoption-related services, they must provide LGBTQ+ families with any referrals to known LGBTQ-welcoming facilities and professionals.

Sample Policy Language:

  • Adoption Options, Aurora, CO, "Interagency Agreement"
    • ​Adoption Options believes every child deserves a safe and loving home and embraces diversity and inclusion. This policy's definition of diversity includes sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, stating that no one will be turned away on the basis of these reasons. This agreement applies to all Adoption Option employees, volunteers, members, clients, and contractors.

  • Adoption Resource Associates, Cambridge, MA, "Non-Discrimination Agreement"
    • ​Adoption Resource Associates does not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. This agreement ensures that contractors adhere to their nondiscriminatory policies and procedures.

  • ​New Jersey Department of Children & Families, Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Trenton, NJ, "Nondiscrimination/Americans with Disabilities Act"
    • ​The State of New Jersey Department of Children & Families is committed to contracting with vendors who are dedicated to providing services to clients and work environments that are free from discrimination. This policy notifies Provider Agencies of prohibitions against discrimination, based on gender/sex, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, domestic partnership status, and civil union, among other things.

  • Northwest Resource Associates, Seattle, WA, "Agreement for Purchase of Personal Services"
    • Northwest Resource Associates ensures that all organizations it contracts with agree to comply with all applicable Federal, state and local nondiscrimination laws as well as their own nondiscrimination policy. This agreement includes protections for persons regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

  • ​Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services, Los Angeles, CA, "Addendum I Contract Worker Agreement and Adoption and Foster Care Rate of Compensation"
    • ​Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services ensures that contractors will provide services in accordance with all of its established policies and procedures, including the application and practice of Vista Del Mar's Client Non-Discrimination Policy. This contract worker agreement explicitly states that the Adoption and Foster Care Program at Vista Del Mar does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity.

See also:

Client Non-Discrimination Statements

Agency Grievance Procedures

Best practices for grievance procedures:

  • Be explicit with LGBTQ+ clients regarding your established grievance process and encourage them to share any concerns or issues that arise. This can help your agency identify and address discriminatory or insensitive treatment by staff or volunteers.

  • If possible, identify a staff person to serve as an ombudsman or liaison to the LGBTQ+ community and have them routinely "check in" with LGBTQ+ clients to monitor their experience.