DCFS Criticized for Not Protecting LGBTQ Youth in Foster Care in Recent Report from Auditor General
The State of Illinois’ Office of the Auditor General recently published a performance audit report detailing the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) care of LGBTQ youth. The children are in care because they have been abused and neglected. The report finds LGBTQ youth in DCFS care are ostracized and bullied. Some foster kids have described instances during which LGBTQ youth were kicked out of a foster home by the foster parents for coming out as gay or bisexual. Equally, LGBTQ foster parents do not believe they are supported, depriving the youth from a potential home. Moreover, the position of DCFS LGBTQ Coordinator was vacant for an entire year during the audit period. Read more here.
DCFS is not following its own policy to find safe homes for these youth. According to the audit report, DCFS does not collect information for youth regarding sexual orientation and it therefore has no dependable way of tracking them. The youth may only “come out” or identify as LGBTQ until after they come into the care of the Department and are already placed. However, the Department does not actively solicit this information from the youth. The Department also does not require foster parents to commit to provide care and homes for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Thus, since DCFS has such a loose system of protecting LGBTQ youth in foster care, the auditor general’s report commented that the investigation was itself difficult to conduct. There is a complete lack of data. The auditor general estimated there is anywhere between 522 and 2,624 LGBTQ youth in foster care within the State of Illinois. The auditor general gave DCFS 16 recommendations to improve its services, such as maintaining consistent policies regarding LGBTQ youth. DCFS responded by boasting that it has hired a new director since the audit.