Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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DCF has made the following commitments to addressing equity as part of Wisconsin’s Putting Families First efforts to dramatically reduce the number of children in out-of-home care.

"We include diverse perspectives in shaping our child welfare transformation through engaging a wide range of voices and addressing barriers to inclusion."

These commitments and values are not DCF’s alone, but are shared by individuals and child welfare agencies across the state of Wisconsin. DCF remains committed to centering diversity, equity and inclusion in ongoing efforts to truly put families first through supporting local conversations and through improving policies and practices.

Policies to Support LGBTQ+ Youth

One way that DCF is supporting local agencies in having crucial conversations and to increase equity throughout the child welfare system is through inclusive policies related to LGBTQ+ youth.

On March 2, 2022, the US Department of Health and Human Services released an information memo affirming what is equally true right here in Wisconsin: LGBTQ+ children and youth are over-represented in the child welfare system and yet remain underserved.  This population of individuals is historically and currently vulnerable, and are subject to higher rates of physical violence and emotional harm prior to, and during, their involvement with the child welfare and youth justice system.  And collectively, we are called to action to better meet the needs of these children and their families.

National research conservatively estimates that approximately 20% of children and youth in out of home care identify as LGBTQ+.  Applying that estimate to out-of-home care data in Wisconsin, this would equate to more than 380 children in this state who may identify as LGBTQ+ in out of home care alone.  This substantial population of children, both in home and in out of home care, need attention and care.

Division of Safety and Permanence and the Department of Children and Families stand unequivocally in support of LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families and remain committed to ensuring that policies and programs advance the priority of building affirming and inclusive environments for LGBTQ+ youth and families to thrive.  Likewise, DCF calls upon our child welfare workforce, service providers and out of home care providers at all levels, to engage in education and action in better serving LGBTQ+ youth and families.

To support this effort, DCF has released an Issue Brief titled Working with LGBTQ+ Youth and Families in Child Welfare. This document outlines background information supporting the call to action, as well as definitions and resources – many of which offer free training opportunities that may be of benefit to you and your agency.  Perhaps most importantly, this document identifies initial action steps necessary to better support the LGBTQ+ children, youth, and families whom we serve in the child welfare system and to enact best practice.