2SLGBTQIA+ Children & Youth in Care
Approximately forty percent of youth living on the streets are 2SLGBTQIA+, and many access services such as drop-in centres, street outreach and housing programs (LGBTQ2S Youth Homelessness in Canada - The519). Through new legislation, many of these youth now qualify for a VYSA (Voluntary Youth Service Agreement), which means they can access support from Family & Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region.
More than forty percent of youth coming into care through a VYSA in Waterloo Region identify as 2SLGBTQIA+. These numbers are staggering when we consider that approximately ten percent of the general population identifies as 2SLGBTQIA+.
2SLGBTQIA+ youth are at an increased risk of social isolation, depression, attempted suicide and other mental health concerns. They need and deserve greater access to appropriate services. Additionally, Indigenous, Black and racialized 2SLGBTQIA+ children and youth need access to holistic supports and services that affirm and support their particular identities.
For Two-Spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous, Black and racialized children and youth we strive to ensure culturally appropriate placements, as well as ensuring connections with community members, mentors and cultural spaces that affirm sexual and gender identities.
How you can help as a member/ally of the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community
We are reaching out to Waterloo Region to inspire dialogue and encourage those who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ and allies to get involved. The lived experience and community connections of 2SLGBTQIA+ caregivers can be an incredible benefit to children and youth, helping them as they grow and learn to navigate the challenges in their lives.
In Waterloo Region we currently have many youth leaving our community for care because we do not have enough local foster homes. This is especially detrimental to 2SLGBTQIA+ youth, as they have a much harder time establishing a supportive and affirming community. Combing the trauma of coming into care, while also putting them in a situation where they do not know who their safe people are increases negative outcomes for them in the short and long term.
By providing a caring, affirming environment to local 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in care you are ensuring they remain in their communities, while also helping them to connect to important resources and create chosen families of their own. You can also play a critical role in helping them to reconnect with their primary families to ensure their long-term success when leaving your temporary care.
Our agency’s commitment to the 2SLGBTQIA+ Community
Our agency promotes an inclusive and supportive environment for the children, youth, families, workers, caregivers and volunteers that make up our community. Whether they wish to be open about their sexual orientation or gender identity we ensure we are inclusive and respectful at all levels.
As part of our agency commitment we currently have a 2SLGBTQIA+ working group that is led by our Director of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. We also are encouraging all staff to complete SOGIE (sexual orientation gender identity expression) through OACAS (Ontario association of children’s aid societies) as well as other types of training and support through rainbow community partners. We are also proud participants and supporters of Tri-Pride, the Pride celebrations for Waterloo Region that takes place every first week of June.