morrison dhs lgbtq 062221HIGHWOOD – Following recent findings that the Illinois Department of Children and Family was not respecting the needs of LGBTQ youth in care, the agency announced Tuesday it is enhancing its LGBTQ training and resources. State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is calling on the department to adhere to its policies to ensure all children feel safe and heard.

“LGBTQ youth in care are disproportionately likely to become homeless and deal with mental health struggles,” Morrison said. “I am hopeful under the enhanced training DCFS will work more diligently to respect LGBTQ children’s identities and prioritize the care they need.”

To meet the needs of LGBTQ youth in care, DCFS said it will expand its network of gender-affirming therapists, service providers, health care professionals, agencies and organizations across the state. It also plans to launch enhanced required LGBTQ training for staff, private agency partners and foster caregivers this summer.

The increased training and services comes after an auditor general investigation that looked into how many LGBTQ children were under the care of DCFS and the number of providers deemed “clinically appropriate” for the kids. The audit found the agency "does not collect sufficient information regarding whether those in care are LGBTQ."

Morrison – who previously passed a resolution calling for the audit – immediately urged a change in training and policies at the agency.

“We must ensure all children are placed in understanding environments that accept them and support their authentic selves,” Morrison said.

LGBTQ youth in care, foster and adoptive parents, and child welfare staff may call the department’s LGBTQ Helpline at 855-814-8421 for assistance and answers to questions about their rights, available services and resources, and upcoming training opportunities.