William Eichler 30 July 2019

Foster carers need ‘more support’ to look after LGBTQ young people

More support is needed for foster carers looking after LGBTQ young people, new study says.

Research conducted by the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Centre for Research on Children and Families found that some foster carers are struggling to meet the needs of LGBTQ young people.

The research, which was based on interviews with 26 carers, found that this was sometimes because of the carers’ lack of knowledge, skills and support, and sometimes because of ambivalence, discomfort or homophobia or transphobia among foster family members.

The findings, published in the journal Child and Family Social Work, found that most carers felt alone with the question of how best to support LGBTQ young people. This meant negative attitudes and approaches could go unchallenged.

Gillian Schofield, professor of Child and Family Social Work at UEA, said the experiences and needs of LGBTQ young people in care had been overlooked in England.

‘LGBTQ young people in foster families are likely to have many of the same needs as other fostered adolescents, but they also face additional challenges,’ said Professor Schofield.

‘Their emotional, psychological and social well-being depends on how they manage, and are supported in managing, both the difficult histories they share with other children in care and their minority sexual orientation and gender identities.’

‘Understanding caregiving roles and relationships for LGBTQ young people in care has important implications for recruiting, training, matching and supporting foster carers to care for LGBTQ young people effectively, to ensure their needs are met,’ Professor Schofield continued.

‘Our work highlights one of the key areas in fostering that professionals supporting young people in foster care and training and supporting foster carers need to be better informed about.’

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