Comments to NYC ACS on Policy # 2012/XX – "Promoting a Safe and Respectful Environment for LGBTQ Youth and their Families Involved in the Child Welfare, Detention and Juvenile Justice System," CHLP (2012)

Testimony Before Legislative and Administrative Bodies

The Center for HIV Law and Policy submitted these comments on September 26, 2012 to the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) on the agency's proposed policy regarding LGBTQ youth involved in child protective and preventive services, alternative-to-detention programs, foster care, congregate care, juvenile justice placements, and detention facilities. The comments focus on the policy's provisions related to medical and mental health services, sexual health education and services, and staff training.

The LGBTQ policy relies on numerous internal and external regulations and guidelines for the provision of medical and mental health services, including a youth's initial health assessment and examination, ongoing care, and discharge planning. The comments suggest adopting the Teen SENSE Model Policy: Sexual Health Care for Youth in State Custody and drawing from the Model Sexual Health Care Standards for Youth in State Custody to streamline the LGBTQ policy's directives. The comments also request that ACS clarify the protocol for youth seeking hormone therapy and whose parent or legal guardian is unavailable to provide consent.

The LGBTQ policy does not specifically mention the provision of sexual health education to youth in the care of ACS. Again, it relies on numerous internal and external regulations and guidelines, most of which set forth family planning and pregnancy-related information and services only. The comments suggest adopting the Teen SENSE Model Policy: Sexual Health Education for Youth in State Custody and drawing from the Model Sexual Health Education Standards for Youth in State Custody to streamline the policy's directives.

Finally, the LGBTQ policy states that agency staff and foster parents must be trained on the goals and expectations of the policy, but does not specify whether this includes those of the more than 10 additional sets of regulations and guidelines referenced throughout the policy. The comments suggest adopting the Teen SENSE Model Policy: Training for Youth Facility Staff: Ensuring Competence That Includes the Rights and Needs of LGBTQ Youth and drawing from the Model Staff Training Standards: Focusing on the Needs of LGBTQ Youth to streamline the policy's directives.