Adapting Foster Care Efforts, Adoption Services for LGBT Kids
Group teaches Alaska organizations how to make sure kids are placed in friendly homes
When a kid is kicked out of their home and ends up in foster care, the experience is often traumatic.
A disproportionately high number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth end up in foster care and face a unique set of challenges, according to The Downs Group.
The organization works to improve child welfare, and the group's president, Chris Downs, said it is important to find accepting foster and adoptive parents.
"They're living in residential care, foster care or homeless shelters," Downs said.
Some LGBT kids that end up in foster care do not receive the support they need.
Parris Seminaril is openly gay and said that happened to him.
"I had a foster home trying to pray away the gay," Seminaril said. "They were saying it was curable with 'his' help, God's help."
Seminaril is now under the foster care of Edie Bailey and her husband. They have taken in more than 30 foster kids, 10 of whom were LGBT.
"You need to nurture the child so the child can reach their own decisions. because that's what being mature really is is being your own person," Bailey said.
She supports what The Downs Group is doing in Alaska this week.
The Downs Group is certified in a training program called "All Children, All Families" that teaches agencies working with foster care and adoption to be more aware of the needs of the LGBT community.
The focus of the training includes both the perspective of kids needing to be placed in a home and LGBT people looking to adopt.
"Right now there are over 2 million LGBT adults who would like to adopt in the U.S.," Downs said. "Alaska shares about 4,700 of those adults."
After completing this week's training the Alaska Center for Resource Families will be one of 35 agencies in the country with national recognition for completing the certification process.
Other agencies, like the Office of Children Services, were in attendance for the training but are not becoming certified.
Alaska Center for Resource Families has locations in Anchorage, Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Juneau.