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Biden Announces New Rules to Protect Foster Children Including Protecting LGBTQI+ Kids from Abuse

There are more than 391,000 American children in foster care who face innumerable challenges and risks.

The Biden-Harris administration announced on Wednesday three new regulations to strengthen protections for children in foster care including LGBTQI+ youth and kin rights in recognition of National Kinship Care Awareness Month.

The rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families will:

1. Support kinship caregivers – making it easier for family members and loved ones who step forward to care for a child in foster care to access resources and financial assistance.
2. Protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care from abuse and mistreatment and ensure they have the
services they need to thrive.
3. Expand access to legal services for children and families at risk of entering or in the child welfare system.

The rules are in different stages.

The kinship caregiver rule is a final regulation meant to help states simplify the process for kinship caregivers to become foster care providers. It requires states to provide family members with the same financial support that any other foster home would receive. It will go into immediate effect, and requires that states submit their plans to be approved as meeting the requirements and then they can begin drawing down on the reimbursement for kinship placement.

The LGBTQI+ protection rule a proposed rule as a result of an Executive Order signed by President Biden directing HHS to protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care. There will be 60 days of comment on this rule before it goes into effect.

An example of the third rule that expands access to legal services, the White House gave the example of a parent “seeking a restraining order from an abusive spouse in order to keep their children safe and prevent their removal from the home, a state could use federal funds to help that parent access a lawyer to file a restraining order.” So this proposed rule will allow child welfare agencies to use federal funds for that process, to help stabilize the family.

In terms of how the proposed rule to protect LGBTQI+ children in foster care will be implemented,
senior administration officials told us the rule is meant to address the fact that LGBTQI+ kids in foster care have faced disparities in access to care. It is meant to ensure all children have safe and appropriate placement and that they receive care that is protecting them from any mistreatment because of who they are.

Under the proposed rule, states would be required to ensure every LGBTQI{+ child under their care receives a safe placement.

A.Free from hostility or mistreatment or abuse related to a child sexual orientation or gender identity
B. Special training: LGBTQI+ children must be placed with a provider who’s received special training on how to meet the unique needs of LGBTQI+ children, including being equipped to handle any possible trauma
C. Rule requires any safe and appropriate provider is one who will help youth access services they need, like youth support group for LGBTQI+ kids who’ve experienced homelessness in the past, as an example.

A senior administration official gave me an example of rule A means. “We know that so-called Conversion therapy can be a very harmful and dangerous practice. It’s something that the President has been focused on mitigating exposure to for children, because of how harmful it can be and because of the evidence that exposure to conversion therapy makes LGBTQI plus children significantly more likely to attempt suicide. So the rule clarifies. for example, that a provider that attempted to expose an LGBT child in foster care to conversion therapy would not be considered safe or a place safe or appropriate under the rule.”

The federal government has oversight processes in place to perform oversight of how states are complying with federal foster care laws, so those systems would be used to determine a state’s compliance with these new rules if there’s concern outside of the Child and Family Services Reviews process, which uses case reviews, interviews with young people, foster parents and community partners.

“Together the rules represent one of the most substantial advances in child welfare in a generation. They will be truly transformative for families,” White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden said in a call with reporters. “I’m especially glad we’re making these announcements today in recognition of the National Kinship Care Month, a time when we honor the grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles and family members all across the country who stepped in to care for a child and their family in their family enters foster care.”

For those who have had interaction with the foster care system, these rules will likely be good news. In a broader sense, by trying to provide stability for more children and families, the Biden-Harris administration is trying to provide more stability and health for our society as a whole. This is an example of good governance; not to suggest it will be implemented perfectly — but rather, that it’s good policy based on feedback from folks on the ground, and it is meant to help people, not private profits.

“I consider this game changing. Maybe that means the same thing but for those of us who were watching some NFL football, this is game changing,” Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the call. “Because this is going to change the complexion of how we view foster care treatment our foster kids, but more importantly how we look at the people who we rely on to care for foster kids. And so it will transform the way that these kids can look at life.”

When the government helps The People, it supports democracy. Every single one of these policies, even when they don’t impact a reader directly, impacts readers in a ripple effect.

Good governance is essential for democracy, and it is the opposite of corruption, greed, and the unquenchable demand for power we see from many in our own country who enable global autocracies. Taking better care of kids is essential for the stability of a democracy.

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