Fostering Inequity: How COVID-19 Amplifies Dangers for LGBTQ+ Youth in Care

Even under normal circumstances, child welfare systems can be a fraught environment for LGBTQ+ youth. Like all young people in these systems, they must cope with the abuse and neglect they may have suffered at the hands of their caregivers. But LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk of additional harms, including discrimination, institutionalization, and even abuse within the system. They are more likely to age out without ever achieving permanency. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates these risks. It wreaks havoc on the fragile dynamics that protect these youth, and will undoubtedly continue to have a significant impact on them and child welfare systems for years to come.

This report was developed with extensive input from young people currently or formerly in foster care and young people currently or formerly experiencing homelessness who identify as LGBTQ+, and direct service workers. We identify how the pandemic is amplifying some of the risks for LGBTQ+ youth in child welfare systems and propose practices to mitigate them. Now, more than ever, LGBTQ+ young people must be protected.

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What You’ll Find in the Report

  • Read personal stories from young people and direct service workers
  • Learn about the prominent issues that are affecting LGBTQ+ youth in systems of care
  • Find our recommendations to address these issues at federal, state, and local governments

Voices of the Youth

Some of my friends are in unsafe living situations. They rely on LGBTQ drop-in centers to go to and be able to be themselves and get the resources they need. Now that they’re closed, my friends are in a lot of danger. These drop-in centers also offer safer sex supplies, chest binders, and other gender-affirming supplies and now my community can’t access them as easily.


The biggest problem caused by COVID-19 I see is that DFCS [Georgia’s child welfare agency] isn’t working like it used to. I’m used to a routine, and I haven’t been seeing that. I’ve been seeing my caseworker sometimes over video, but it’s not the same as in person. My caseworker usually takes me to the grocery store for our meetings, and now I have to pay an Uber every time I have to go to the grocery store.