All Children - All Families: Sustainable Inclusivity Practices

All Children - All Families: Sustainable Inclusivity Practices

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Childwelfare and service providers face many challenges in their daily work.

In this resource HRC will provide information that will help your organization create a mission and values statement that is welcoming to perspective LGBTQ+ adoptive and Foster parents, how to create a welcoming and safe environment not only for LGBTQ+ clients but also LGBTQ+ staff members, training your staff advocates on how best to serve their LGBTQ+ youth and/or families as well as approaches to creating a data collection system that captures information about LGBTQ+ clients.

Mission & Values Statement

An organization’s mission or values statement publicly reflects and communicates its philosophical commitment. Many LGBTQ+ people mistakenly believe that the law prohibits them from adopting or foster parenting or that individual agencies are not welcoming to them. LGBTQ+ prospective adoptive or foster parents often look at an agency’s mission statement, values statement or non-discrimination policy to learn whether the agency is welcoming to LGBTQ+-headed families.

Sample Statements:

Extraordinary Families, “Who can become a foster (resource) parent through Extraordinary Families?” Section []
Anyone over age 25 who is interested in providing a loving home to a child in foster care can participate in the certification process regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Family Builders, “Who can foster and adopt?” Section []
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) families are a valuable resource for the many children who are in the foster care system and who are waiting for a family to adopt them. LGBTQ families often bring particular strengths to meet many of the special needs that children from the foster care system have.

See also:

Agency Client and Employment Non-Discrimination Policies

Creating LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplaces

Child welfare agencies committed to working with LGBTQ+ communities must ensure a welcoming, safe environment not only for LGBTQ+ clients but also LGBTQ+ staff members. With a reputation as an LGBTQ+-friendly employer, agencies can recruit and retain talented employees who see their own values reflected in the agency’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

The All Children - All Families Benchmarks of LGBTQ+ Inclusion focus on workplace inclusion policies and practices in several areas including:


The non-discrimination benchmarks include “Employment Non-Discrimination Policies.” This is the foundation for establishing an inclusive workplace. It guarantees equal treatment and opportunity in hiring, promotions and compensation, and informs prospective employees about the agency's values. Furthermore, this policy can help attract diverse staff, which in turn increases your agency's competency in working with all populations. To meet this benchmark, an agency’s employment non-discrimination policy must prohibit employment discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity."

Sustainability & Capacity Building

Agencies may demonstrate innovation within the Sustainability & Capacity Building benchmarks by sharing information on additional workplace inclusion efforts.

Additional Resources

Advocate Training

Building an agency’s capacity to best serve LGBTQ+ youth and/or families is an ongoing, long-term effort. Implementing a staff advocate role (sometimes called an ombudsperson or champion) at an agency is one strategy for ensuring this work is sustainable and prioritized.

Staff advocates are identified to all colleagues and clients and charged with resource collection and dissemination, advocacy, support and intervention. Those who serve in this role are especially important for LGBTQ+ clients receiving services who can face barriers and challenges due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression.

Agencies must demonstrate the existence of a staff advocate for LGBTQ+ clients and a description of how this person has fulfilled this role, their capacity for this work on top of any other responsibilities and their requisite knowledge to do so.

All Children – All Families has identified the following guidance for agencies working toward the staff advocate benchmark:

  • There is no "one size fits all" approach for establishing a staff advocate at an agency.
    • If your agency does not currently have anyone serving in this role, think about what is most needed at your agency before creating a role description. Tailor the position to the needs of your agency by thinking about how your agency's clients would benefit most from this role and the most effective way the role can be implemented at your agency.

  • The role of staff advocate varies depending on the size and scope of an agency.
    • Larger public agencies often have formalized staff advocate roles. These advocates may be working specifically on LGBTQ+ client advocacy, or on a range of client advocacy issues, with an explicit inclusion of LGBTQ+ client advocacy. For smaller agencies, the staff advocate role may be more informal and they may view all staff as being advocates for clients or the executive director may serve this role. Agencies that provide direct services to youth in out-of-home care should have a more formalized staff advocate role in place.

  • Staff advocates' internal focus is on building the agency's capacity to provide LGBTQ+ competent services and ensure this work is sustainable in the long term.
    • Supporting an agency’s efforts to provide LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming services is the most integral part of this role. This can include advocating for an LGBTQ+ client navigating the various services an agency offers, compiling comprehensive resources for staff, organizing efforts for continuing education on best practices for working with LGBTQ+ clients, leading the agency's All Children - All Families efforts, etc.

  • Staff advocates’ external focus is on helping LGBTQ+ clients and colleagues access services and resources available outside of the agency.
    • It's imperative that LGBTQ+ clients feel supported in their direct work with your agency as well as in experiences with services they are referred to, the challenges they may face as a result of becoming an LGBTQ+ foster/adoptive parent, and in any other capacity related to their foster care or adoption journey. For example, a staff advocate may intervene if an LGBTQ+ client has a grievance with an external service provider, or they may use their knowledge of resources in the community to assist a client.

  • There should be clear internal and external messaging of the availability of the staff advocate as a resource.
    • In order for staff and clients to take advantage of the resources and assistance available to them through the staff advocate role, they need to know the role exists. Whenever appropriate, clients should receive clear communication informing them of their opportunities to connect with a staff advocate. Staff members should also be made aware of the staff advocate and the ways in which this person can assist them in performing their duties. Modes of messaging around staff advocates vary depending on the size and scope of an agency as well as formalized this role is at an agency.

Examples of Staff Advocate's Role Description based on Agency Size:

Private Agency -
Illinois Center for Adoption and Permanency, Chicago, IL

State Level -
The Department of Children and Families (DCF), Boston, MA

Data Collection

Nearly all child welfare service providers collect and routinely analyze data for the purpose of reporting outcomes to funders, community stakeholders and for tracking progress toward the agency's strategic goals and priorities. Certain demographic information is required in data collection (e.g. race/ethnicity, marital status or gender). In the vast majority of data collection tools and systems, there is no requirement for, or capacity to indicate that a client is LGBTQ+. As a result, there is very little accurate tracking and reporting on outcomes for LGBTQ+ clients. For example, few agencies have data on recruitment, licensing, placement and longer-term outcomes with the LGBTQ+ community, and many agencies rely solely on anecdotal "data."

There are relatively simple, and low or no-cost approaches to creating a data collection system that captures information about LGBTQ+ clients. For example, you can create an Excel spreadsheet to use as a supplement to your current data collection tools, which can capture information on sexual orientation and gender identity of applicants/clients.

Ideally, data collection begins at the first contact, whether it's a phone call in response to a recruitment ad or an email that comes through your website. By "counting" LGBTQ+ clients early on, you can identify which of your outreach activities or public relations approaches are effective with the LGBTQ+ audience, and you can track the services and outcomes as they move through the process.

Consider data collection in any and all of these program areas and processes that apply for your agency:

  • Recruitment/outreach activities (on-site and off-site)

  • Intake call

  • Orientation meetings

  • Application forms

  • Homestudy forms

  • Client consumer surveys (past or present clients included)

For more information on data collection, visit