On Friday, June 9, Child Advocates of Silicon Valley was awarded an All Children – All Families Seal of Recognition as a Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBTQ Youth. The Seal was presented in the Santa Clara County Judge Shawna Schwarz’s courtroom in San Jose.
“We are honored to be recognized as a leader in serving LGBTQ foster youth, especially at a time when LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in the foster care system,” Karen Scussel, executive director of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, said. “This Seal of Recognition is testament to the humanity and dedication of our board, staff and volunteers and reflects our agency’s vision to unite expertise with compassion and cultural competency to achieve the goal of safety, permanency and well-being for the LGBTQ youth we serve.”
“The child welfare professionals at Child Advocates of Silicon Valley are shining examples of how to prioritize efforts to improve practice with LGBTQ youth” Ellen Kahn, director of HRC Foundation’s Children, Youth, & Families Program, explained.
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley provides Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to foster youth. Child Advocate volunteers assist in every aspect of a child’s case, from meeting with teachers to interacting with biological family members and foster parents, in order to gain a comprehensive perspective on what the child needs in order to thrive. CASA volunteers remain with their case until their child has a safe, loving home, and they are especially important when supporting LGBTQ foster youth.
“CASAs can provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for LGBTQ children to express their thoughts and feelings about what they’re going through. Just having a non-biased, caring adult for chidlren who identify [as LGBTQ] is huge” Scussel said.
HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families initiative provides a comprehensive framework, from client non-discrimination policies to staff training, that assists agencies in establishing policies and practices that welcome, support and affirm LGBTQ youth and families.