Legislature Approves Cervantes Bill to Strengthen Existing Anti-Discrimination Policies for LGBTQ Resource Families
(SACRAMENTO) – Today, the State Assembly approved Senate amendments to Assembly Bill 2466 by Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) by a vote of 72-0, sending the bill to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk. AB 2466 strengthens existing anti-discrimination policies for lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) resource families, and helps to end the statutory stigma attached to LGBTQ+ foster children by eliminating the term “hard to place children” from our state laws.
California’s Child Welfare System is intended to help children who are living in unsafe environments. Currently, there are nearly 60,000 children in our state’s foster care system, and the need to find placements for foster children has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In California, a resource family is a caregiver who provides out-of-home care for children in foster care. They are approved to provide care on a temporary (foster care) or permanent (adoption and legal guardianship) basis. Thanks to significant reforms approved by the Legislature in recent years, more and more LGBTQ+ families are seeking to offer their services as resource families for foster children. However, LGBTQ+ families continue to confront many barriers in seeking to serve as resource families.
While more public and private agencies have created supportive practices while also recruiting LGBTQ+ families, some agency policies and professional biases continue to present obstacles for some LGBTQ+ individuals and couples interested in pursuing foster care.
“Misinformation and inexperience in working with LGBTQ+ families prevent many child welfare and foster care professionals from providing meaningful services to foster care families who identify as LGBTQ+,” said Assembly Member Cervantes.
In particular, social workers in child welfare agencies are empowered to exercise significant discretion in helping decide who gets licensed as a resource family and who does not. Without state protections against discrimination, some social workers may allow their personal biases against the LGBTQ+ community to create insurmountable barriers for otherwise qualified LGBTQ+ families seeking to serve as loving resource families for foster children.
AB 2466 will strengthen existing anti-discrimination policies for LGBTQ+ resource families by prohibiting placing agencies from declining to place a foster child with a resource family solely because the resource family identifies as LGBTQ+.
“LGBTQ+ related stigma undermines placement stability. It is our responsibility to ensure that the over 60,000 children in the foster care system are placed in nurturing foster homes. Not doing so is harmful to our foster children and unfair to the LGBTQ+ families who are well-equipped to care for them,” Cervantes added.
Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ youth are overrepresented in California’s child welfare system, and the negative experiences of LGBTQ+ youth are largely overlooked. Many LGBTQ+ youth report experiences of discrimination, marginalization, and an overall lack of acceptance when navigating our state’s child welfare system. This lack of acceptance is manifested by the fact that existing California law includes LGBTQ+ foster children in the legal category of “hard to place children.”
AB 2466 will also eliminate the use of the term “hard to place children” in our state laws.
“We must strive to instill this basic principle in our foster care system: no child is too difficult to love or care for regardless of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” Cervantes concluded. “The rising wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in states across the country offers a stark reminder that continued progress toward equality is by no means assured. States like California must step up to protect, embrace, and empower our LGBTQ+ community.”
The bill now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk, where it has until September 30th to be either be signed into law or vetoed. You can find more information about AB 2466 here.