PROUD of our LGBTQ+ Foster Youth
June is a time for PRIDE.
And, we are so proud of our foster youth and how much they have accomplished this year despite the hardships of an ongoing global pandemic, the threat violence in our schools and communities and the everyday pressures of being a teenager/young adult.
CII’s Individualized Transitional Skill Program (ITSP) supports transition aged (16-21) foster youth in preparing for a fulfilling adult life outside the foster system by providing mentorship, life skills classes, and encouraging high school graduation and college readiness.
Last year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation many of our youth were experiencing, our staff created “The Bright Room,” a virtual meeting space for our LGBTQ+ youth to meet and talk about their lives and especially the unique struggles of being part of both the LGBTQ+ community and the foster system. The Bright Room has allowed our LGBTQ+ youth to feel heard, supported and acknowledged as they face barriers during the coming out process. We are happy to say that these sessions are now in-person—with the exception of out-of-state youth or youth who have being exposed to COVID-19.
Since then, staff have made significant efforts to reinforce training that enables them to provide affirming services to our LGBTQ+ youth. An annual LGBTQ+ training helps our Transitional Development Specialists (TDS) in practicing self-awareness and forming a deeper understanding of LGBTQ+ terminology, intersectionality, risks and protective factors. This has allowed our youth to hone stronger relationships with their TDS and helps us to identify their specific needs in order to provide them with adequate resources.
ITSP staff has also been partnering with different LGBTQ+ organizations to give youth access to a wider network of mentors, mental health services and health care as they navigate their identity journey: LGBTQ+ programs at community colleges provide support groups, events and advocacy opportunities where youth are able to build comradery with their peers. Public Counsel provides legal services for youth in filing name and/or gender-affirming petitions. Businesses like the Shay Hotel and Yogasix host Pride fundraisers with proceeds going toward LGBTQ+ services for ITSP’s youth.
We are proud of the network of support being created for our youth, and we want them to know that, even when they feel like the odds are stacked against them, there is a community willing and able to help.
Thank you for being exactly who you are, for standing up for what you believe and for spreading the love that is shown to you. The world is a better place, because you are in it.