This month, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption awarded a grant to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation for its All Children – All Families program, which provides training on LGBTQ issues for adoption agencies and child welfare organizations. The program has primarily focused on removing barriers faced by prospective LGBTQ foster and adoptive parents; the grant will allow the program to expand with a new training curriculum on safety, permanency, and well-being for LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care.
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption works to dramatically increase the number of adoptions of waiting children from North America’s foster care systems. The Foundation was founded by Dave Thomas of Wendy’s restaurants, and, among other activities, provides grants for innovative ideas and programs on foster care adoption in the U.S.
Rita Soronen, president & CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation, said, “At the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, we believe that all children deserve our very best efforts to achieve permanency. Educating the public and addressing barriers to adoption is a signature part of what we do. We believe HRC’s tested and broadly disseminated strategy, All Children—All Families, plays a critical role in addressing the too often neglected permanency needs of LGBT youth, but it’s all of our responsibility to make change. We all have a role.”
The Dave Thomas Foundation is among the many foundations and philanthropic institutions that focus on the needs of out-of-home youth and other vulnerable children, youth, and families. The Foundation Center’s most recent report on foundation funding, released this month, found that 22 percent of foundation dollars awarded in 2011 were for programs focused on children and youth – a total of $5.3 billion in grants. According to Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ own data on LGBTQ grantmaking, only $19.5 million in grants went to LGBTQ youth in 2011 – less than four-tenths of one percent of all grants for children and youth.
While it is difficult to quantify the number of LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care, it is estimated that they make up at least 5-10 percent of the 400,000 youth in foster care in the U.S. Within the foster care system, these LGBT youth face unique challenges. One study found that as many as 78 percent of LGBT youth are removed from or run away from their foster home placements because they were unwelcoming or hostile on the basis of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth also make up as much as 40 percent of homeless youth, according to a study by the Williams Institute in collaboration with the Palette Fund and the True Colors Fund.
Given the disproportionate needs and challenges faced by LGBTQ youth, there are tremendous untapped opportunities for partnerships between children and youth funders and organizations and programs addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ youth.