ACS is committed to providing the highest quality services to all children in our care, regardless of their race, color, ethnicity, religion national origin, cultural heritage, disability, special needs, gender, age or sexual orientation. The purpose of this policy statement is to reinforce ACS' commitment respect the dignity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
As professionals working to serve all of the children in our care, we must be sensitive to the reality that some of the young people we serve are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or perhaps questioning their sexual identities. These youth face special challenges as they negotiate their sexual orientations in a society often hostile to non-traditional sexual identities. We must provide these children with safe, healthy and accepting environments in which to grow and thrive.
To accomplish this goal, ACS and its contract agencies must provide services based on principles of sound professional practice and not based on societal, institutional or personal prejudices. ACS must make every effort to provide the most appropriate and least restrictive foster care placements available to all children in our care, regardless of their sexual identities. At all ACS and provider agency facilities, services and programs must be provided in a manner free of discrimination and harassment, with our efforts focused on meeting the diverse needs of children. This principle applies with equal force to children who present with issues relating to their sexual identity. Policies and practices must be applied to all children fairly and equally.
These standards are not only ACS policy - they are mandated by law. State regulations prohibit any act by ACS or contract agency staff that would be detrimental to any child in care. For example, regulations bar use of "language or gestures which can cause emotional harm to the children." ACS interprets such provisions in State regulations as prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, whether by a staff member, a child in care or a member of the community. ACS intends to enforce these regulations vigorously to ensure that children in foster care are not subjected to harassment of any kind, including taunting, excessive teasing, verbal abuse, threats or acts of violence. ACS and contract agency staff are required to investigate and, where necessary, report all such incidents to the appropriate supervisor or authority.
In addition to enforcing the principles of non-discrimination and equal treatment outlined above, ACS continues its efforts to strengthen training and services with respect to the particular issues that confront youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning their sexual identities.
With these key principles of professionalism in mind, ACS will continue to improve service delivery to all youth, including those with non-traditional sexual identities.