All Children - All Families (AC-AF)
All Children-All Families (AC-AF) is a nationwide recruitment initiative launched by the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Family Project. It was created to increase the number of qualified foster and adoptive families for children in care by educating the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community about opportunities to be foster/adoptive parents. The main focus is to promote policies and practices that welcome and support LGBT prospective parents. This is done by educating and engaging the LGBT community regarding opportunities for foster and adoptive parenting and also by improving the cultural competence amongst staff that recruit, develop, train and support resource families.
DCF was first introduced to AC-AF in 2008 when invited to participate in a meeting in New Mexico with Child Welfare representatives from several other states. This began DCF’s journey to become the first State in the nation to earn the Seal of Recognition from HRC’s AC-AF Initiative.
In March 2009 DCF officially kicked off this work by signing the AC-AF’s Pledge of Commitment. As an organization we agree upon the two primary goals of the AC-AF Initiative:
- Welcome, affirm and support all loving and stable families for children, including LGBT headed families and support the cultural competence within our organization in working with LGBT families.
- Educate and engage the LGBT community that we are a welcoming and affirming organization.
DCF then participated in a state self assessment process to determine where we stood on LGBT issues including state laws, staffs & administration’s attitudes, policies, practices. It also assesses staff’s general level of skill, knowledge and comfort level in working with the LGBT community.
A working relationship was forged with various members of AC-AF National Advisory Council (NAC) who helped to guide us through this work and we utilized the AC-AF Promising Practice guide as a tool to work towards best practices for welcoming all prospective parents.
We then began the work of achieving the ten Benchmarks of LGBT Cultural Competence which include:
- An agency’s non-discrimination policy for clients clearly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- An agency’s non-discrimination policy for clients clearly bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
- An agency’s non-discrimination policy for staff clearly bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
- An agency’s non-discrimination policy for staff clearly bans discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
- An agencies resource family forms and documents use inclusive LGBT language.
- Comprehensive LGBT content is included within the home study and resource family assessment.
- An agency’s website, printed material and recruitment activities reflect its commitment to working with LGBT individuals and families.
- The agency has had placements/finalized adoptions with LGBT foster/adoptive parents.
- An agency includes LGBT specific language, examples and exercises in resource family pre-service training.
- All agency employees (resource family and licensing staff) receive training to work effectively with LGBT families and individuals.
In November 2011 New Jersey’s DCF became the first state child welfare agency to earn the Seal of Recognition by the HRC AC-AF Initiative.