About 30,000 children age out of foster care each year and 70 percent of those children wind up homeless. The majority of the homeless population under the age of 18 are LGBTQ youth, often who can’t find an inclusive home and enter group homes where more prevalent mental, sexual, and psychological abuse turns them to the streets.
When an LGBTQ child enters the foster care system, the pot of eligible homes becomes smaller, said Rob Scheer, the founder of Comfort Cases, a non-profit that supplies personal care items to youth entering the foster care system. “The first thing we think of as kids in our system when we realize that we are part of the LGBTQ+ family, is why am I damaged?” said Scheer, a gay man who experienced the foster care system as a child. “Why am I not given that open space to be free and be who I am?” The average child in foster care moves from three to four homes before finding a long-term placement.
This is often due to foster care agencies’ neglect to inform foster parents that a child is a part of the LGBTQ community. However, when foster parents are informed of the child’s identity, less movement occurs.
Even when children come out as being LGBTQ and the foster parents allow them to stay, some homes do so in order to receive a monthly stipend from the government or private foster agency, Scheer said.