New York seeks to expand foster parent diversity

New York City is launching a campaign to recruit gay and lesbian foster parents, part of a major push to expand the kinds of families who consider fostering and to find more welcoming homes for children who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, reports today’s Wall Street Journal

“The public ad campaign, set to roll out this week, features images of an interracial gay couple spending time with a young child. “Be the reason she has hope,” one of the ads reads. In another, a black woman is pictured alone with a white teenage boy. “Be the reason it gets better,” the message says.

“How many of the nearly 13,000 children in New York City’s foster-care system identify as LGBTQ is unclear because the city does not keep such data. But, citing anecdotal evidence, researchers, child advocates and city officials insist that the children are disproportionately represented in the foster care system and say the need to find them supportive homes is great.

“When we decided to do this campaign we knew that LGBTQ young people are disproportionately represented in our foster care population, especially among our teens,” said Ronald Richter, commissioner of the Administration for Child Services, the city’s child welfare agency.

“Mr. Richter, citing a study the city commissioned last year, said the data show that adults who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to want to foster a child who may also identify that way.

“Gerald P. Mellon, a professor of child welfare at Hunter College who has studied the experiences of gay and lesbian youth in foster care, said many children fear their foster parents will reject them if they come out as gay. “These kids often feel like they need to hide who they are,” he said. Many gay New Yorkers don’t realize that the city allows them to become foster parents, said Glennda Testone, the executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in Manhattan.”


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