The Importance of Inclusive Foster Care for LGBT+ Youth

NOTE: As of Feb. 29, 2024, Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) has rebranded to Landmarks for Families. Our nonprofit, community programs and residential services remain committed to cultivating thriving youth and families in this new chapter.

At Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC), we dedicate ourselves to providing a safe, nurturing and nondiscriminatory environment for all youth to thrive. Inclusive foster care is not only about acceptance; it’s about offering a space where young individuals can freely express themselves and have their voices heard. 


Why LGBT+ Youth Support Matters

Did you know that LGBT+ youth have a 120% higher risk of experiencing homelessness and entering the foster care system compared to their peers? Studies have shown that LGBT+ youth face unique challenges and disparities, contributing to increased vulnerability. Contributing factors include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Family Rejection: Many LGBT+ youth face rejection and hostility from their families after coming out or expressing their true gender identity. This rejection can lead to strained family relationships, conflict, and, in some cases, even homelessness. Without a supportive family environment, these young people may be forced to leave their homes and seek alternative housing options.
  2. Discrimination and Stigma: These young people often face discrimination, bullying and stigmatization in their schools and communities. This can result in increased feelings of isolation, lower self-esteem and a lack of support networks. In fact, The National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health conducted by The Trevor Project found that 29% of LGBT+ youth surveyed reported experiencing a significant degree of housing instability, including homelessness, running away or eviction from their homes due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Mental Health Challenges: LGBT+ youth are more likely to experience mental health challenges, such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, due to their unique stressors. These mental health struggles can impact their ability to maintain stable housing and may increase their involvement with the foster care system.
  4. Lack of Culturally Competent Services: Many traditional foster care systems may not have the necessary resources, training or understanding to meet the specific needs of LGBT+ youth. The lack of culturally competent services can result in inadequate support and a lack of understanding regarding the unique challenges faced by these youth.


How CYDC Supports South Carolina’s LGBT+ Youth

Inclusive foster care is crucial in providing a supportive and affirming environment for LGBT+ youth. CYDC is committed to creating an inclusive space where all youth can feel heard, accepted and loved for who they are. Together with our community, we are building a future that celebrates diversity, fosters resilience and empowers individuals to reach their full potential.


Empowering Voice and Choice 

Inclusive foster care centers around empowering youth to play an active role in their own lives. We understand that each individual’s journey is unique and aim to provide an environment where young people can explore and express their identities without judgment or rejection. By offering space for self-discovery and respecting their autonomy, we build a welcoming environment that encourages growth and self-acceptance.


Creating a Safe Haven for Healing

Many LGBT+ youths have faced adversity and trauma, often leading to feelings of rejection and isolation. Inclusive foster care acknowledges these challenges and provides a safe haven for healing. 

Our approach recognizes that healing comes from a place of self-compassion, allowing youth to reconcile past experiences and move forward with resilience. This includes initiatives like the L.Y.G.H.T. Program, which fosters healing and mental health with grief- and trauma-informed intervention and discussions.


Supporting Families on Their Journey

Inclusive foster care goes beyond supporting youth; it also involves uniting families to navigate LGBT+ issues. We understand that some parents may struggle to understand or accept their child’s gender identity or sexual orientation and are there to help them navigate this process with compassion and open-mindedness. 

Our CYDC clinical team is always ready to provide guidance and support, helping parents and caregivers better navigate these waters. By fostering open and respectful communication, we aim to create a bridge of understanding and acceptance within families.


Embracing Fluidity and Evolving Identities

One of the core principles of inclusive foster care is recognizing a youth’s journey of self-discovery and shaping. We acknowledge that youth may experience different aspects of their identities at different times. By creating a space where children can explore and be true to themselves without judgment, we enable them to embrace their authentic selves.


Beyond Labels: Seeing the Whole Individual

As humans, we are each unique and beautifully complex. We are more than the sum of our parts! Inclusive foster care emphasizes that a young person’s gender identity or LGBT+ status is just one aspect of their identity. 

We strive to see the whole individual and provide opportunities for youth to explore their interests, talents and aspirations beyond these labels. By nurturing their individuality, we encourage our children to develop their skills and envision an independent future filled with possibilities.


CYDC Is Ready To Support Your Success

Is your family or child in need of support? With more than 200 years of experience supporting our nation’s youth and families, Carolina Youth Development Center is equipped to lead your child or family through adversity. Whether on-site or in-home, our compassionate team is ready to meet you where you need with the services you need. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and speak with a member of our team.

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CYDC is now Landmarks for Families!

For more than 230 years, we have guided neighbors toward stronger, hopeful futures and now we’re evolving too. We’re grateful to enter this new chapter with you. Welcome to Landmarks for Families!